Wales-based pet food company Happy Hounds has gone into liquidation after its director pleaded guilty to five charges of placing unsafe feed on the market and two of unhygienic premises.
The director was sentenced to 18 weeks custody, which was suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay £15,000 ($18,389) as a contribution towards Neath Port Talbot Council’s costs and to pay a victim surcharge of £128.
After ‘repeated attempts’ at advising Happy Hounds to comply with public health regulations, Trading Standards Wales (TSW) had ‘no option’ but to prosecute, said Councillor Cen Phillips, cabinet member for Nature, Tourism and Wellbeing.
“Businesses should be aware that Trading Standards & Animal Health would prefer to work with them, but if they fail to comply with regulations designed to product the public then they will take firm action.”
‘Corners were cut’
Happy Hounds purchased waste meat and offal to reprocess and sell as raw dog food. Sources included slaughterhouses, cutting plants and meat packers.
A series of pet feed samples were taken from the company’s products in which salmonella and other bacterium in excess of permitted levels were identified. Neath Port Talbot Trading Standards & Animal Health deemed them unsafe, with risk of transmission to both pets and their owners.
In court, District Judge Layton said that over a period of time, Happy Hounds’ director has breached regulations, putting unsafe feed on the market and neglected his processing facilities. Further, it is understood that the director had received by-products of no value and converted them to feed, and that ‘corners were cut’.
According to Companies House, Happy Hounds was established in 2013 and closed 30 August 2023, when it was agreed the company would be ‘wound up’ under a Creditors Voluntary Liquidation.
The risk of salmonella
As suggested by TWS, Happy Hounds was already being monitored by safety authorities. In 2021, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issues a recall of certain types of the company’s frozen raw dog food because of the presence of salmonella.
The risk for all safety agencies lies in the potential for salmonella to harm pets and their owners – it can cause illness in both. According to the FSA, a contaminated product carries a potential risk through either direct handling of the pet food, or indirectly from pet feeding bowls, utensils, or contact with the faeces of animals.
Infected animals may not necessarily display signs of illness, but in humans symptoms caused by salmonella commonly include fever, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps.