Weekly News Roundup 12/ 6 to 12/12

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Special Kitty cat food recalled

Cat owners, beware: A line of wet, canned cat foods was recalled last week due to health concerns regarding poor-quality ingredients. The J.M. Smucker Company announced that it’s voluntarily recalling some of its Special Kitty canned cat food product line, in particular its Special Kitty Mixed Grill Dinner Paté, which the company said didn’t meet its quality and safety standards. The recall is being conducted alongside the US Food and Drug Administration, according to the company’s recall alert. The recalled product in question is sold both individually as well as in variety packs, and the company urged cat owners to throw away any Special Kitty wet, canned cat food and stop feeding it to their pets immediately. . . . more

Clifford, everybody’s favorite big red dog, gets a reboot

Who’s your favorite big red dog? If you have one, chances are his name is Clifford. Scholastic Entertainment is rebooting the TV series about the giant dog with an equally large heart this week on Amazon Prime Video and PBS, the latter his home since the early aughts. The new show offers more diversity among the human characters and puts Clifford’s beloved seven-year-old owner, Emily Elizabeth, front and center in his Birdwell Island adventures. Each episode will include an original song in a range of genres sung by the new main voice artists, 13-year-old Hannah Levinson for Emily Elizabeth and 27-year-old Adam Sanders reprising Clifford, who was once voiced by John Ritter. Author Norman Bridwell published his first Clifford story in 1963. . . . more

MetLife to enter pet insurance market with acquisition of PetFirst program

MetLife has agreed to acquire PetFirst Healthcare, a pet insurance program administrator that currently distributes its pet insurance products through animal welfare agencies, direct-to-consumer channels, and employers. MetLife says the acquisition will enable it to offer a new benefit that is growing in popularity. Since 2014, the annual growth rate for the pet insurance industry has been more than 20%, according to the insurer. Following the acquisition, PetFirst will continue to market pet insurance through animal welfare societies and its direct-to-consumer channel. Beginning in the summer of 2020, MetLife will offer this pet insurance to employers through its group benefits distribution channel, reaching approximately 41 million employees and dependents across the US. . . . more

US Congressman spent $625 on airfare for his pet rabbit

Embattled Republican Representative Duncan Hunter spent upwards of $45,000 from his campaign on personal expenditures—including $625 on flights for his pet rabbit, according to a House Ethics Committee report released Monday. The California congressman announced last week that he would resign after the holidays, following his guilty plea to federal corruption charges stemming from his misuse of more than $200,000 in campaign funds. Hunter, who represents the northeastern San Diego area, had previously denied dipping into campaign funds to pay for personal expenses, including video games, an Italian vacation, groceries—and airfare for a pet rabbit named Cadbury. . . . more

Rover and Wag fight state oversight in Connecticut

All Connecticut Representative Kim Rose wanted was to make sure home-based doggie daycares followed the same health and safety rules as commercial kennels. It sounded deceptively simple. But as soon as she introduced her bill last January, web-based pet care services such as Rover and Wag worked to exempt their business model from the bill. They feared that making their contractors subject to the same licensing and taxes as a commercial kennel would undermine their business. Often referred to as the Uber and Lyft of the pet care industry, Rover and Wag contract with freelance dog walkers, pet sitters and in-home pet care workers. The gig-economy model for pet care has disrupted a standing industry in somewhat the same way that ride-hailing services upended the taxi industry. And just like in those cases, cities and states are scrambling to make their regulations fit. . . . more