CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. - A local breeder is blaming a popular dog food for the deaths of dozens of expensive designer puppies.
Consumer investigator Jim Strickland learned two local veterinarians are backing the breeder.
"This puppy right here is a bichon and cavalier mix puppy, presold for $1,200. I lost 12 of these," said LeRoy Fhlug as he showed off a prized puppy.
Even as state inspectors found zero violations at his operation, Fhlug said he was in crisis last fall. Fifty-eight puppies died in a six-week period.
"The mother dogs would have five or six puppies. In four days, all the puppies were dead," Fhlug said.
Fhlug said the deaths came only weeks after he switched lactating female dogs to a less expensive Royal Canin dog food.
"This milk right here's a real, like a cream, and when they were on Royal Canin it was real watery," Fhlug said showing Strickland a female dog's underside.
A necropsy shows the puppies died from bacterial septicemia, an infection blamed on a lack of colostrum. That's the infection fighter passed in mother's milk.
Two vets offered statements, blaming improper nutrition from the new food. Fhlug said a switch back to his original food ended the deaths.
"The puppies alone were (worth) $53,000," Fhlug said.
Royal Canin told Strickland they are investigating the situation.
"The safety and nutritional quality of our pet food is our top priority, as we understand that the health of the pet comes first. We are confident that all Royal Canin products, including PRO HT42d, are safe for pets to eat and provide a high-quality source of nutrition, when fed appropriately," the company said in a statement.