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Today, I received the following message via Facebook Messenger: “I just did a raw dog food search and an article of yours popped up showing The Thogersen Family Farm. In light of them being arrested thought you might like to circle back on it.”
My first reaction was “WHAT???”
My History with Thogersen Family Farm
I can't recall how I connected with Jennifer Thogersen, but when we met, I loved her immediately. I had finally given up on feeding my dogs rabbit after throwing away a case of rabbit meat that smelled off. People tried to convince me that this was how rabbit meat smelled, but when you open a package of raw dog food and your partner shouts from the 2nd floor “what is that smell????” then I don't want to feed it to my dogs.
Thogersen Family Farm offered ground and whole rabbit and it didn't smell awful. And because they were a local farm, I was able to get the rabbit delivered for no extra cost.
Why I No Longer Order from Thogersen Family Farm
You might expect some dramatic story about a falling out but I'm not that excited. I stopped ordering because they're farm expanded and grew and they were having trouble keeping up with orders. I felt like I was added to the load with my houseful of dogs. Around the same time, Wild Coast Raw was offering rabbit and I purchased a case to try it out – it was a hit, so I switched. I could order WCR through our local raw food co-op.
My last order with the Thogersen Family Farm was late 2019/early 2020. I fed the last of the rabbit in February 2020.
Thogersen Family Farm and Animal Cruelty Charges
As I shared above, when I learned about the animal cruelty charges, I was floored. I heard about this case but never looked into it. I thought it was just a local farm that got in over their head – there are lots of alpaca fields around here. Not once did I connected it with a raw food company although if I would have searched Google, I would have quickly learned of the connection.
So, what happened?
According to the two articles I read, Animal Control received an anonymous report of dead alpacas in the field. When the animal control officer paid a visit the next day, they saw the dead alpaca and another died after the herd was removed from the property. And, sadly, not only where these NOT the only animals that died, but they were young (between 1 year and 4 years) with no detectable health issues per the veterinarian that examined the remaining alpacas and the corpses.
The farm ran out of hay and there wasn't grain and grass to feed the herd. So they starved.
The couple who runs the farm plead Not Guilty in April 2021. I'm not sure about the current status of the case. But I'm going to guess that the raw pet food business has been closed for the time being (I couldn't find their Facebook page).
Alternatives to Thogersen Family Farm
If you purchased raw dog food from the Thogersen Family Farm, I recommend joining our local raw food co-op, WAZZUOR. I've been a member for more than seven years and this co-op has introduced me to a local community of raw feeders and affordable sources of quality raw dog food.
And the owners of the co-op take steps to ensure that the farms we order meat from incorporate humane animal husbandry practices.
My Personal Thoughts
I'm always careful about sharing my thoughts about tragic situations because (1) I don't have all the facts, (2) I don't want to do more harm than good, and (3) I don't want to get sued. So, with that in mind, here are my thoughts.
This is a tragedy for everyone involved. I'm not willing to crucify the owners of the farm because I don't know their side of the story. But I do recognize that, like myself, many people will be triggered by the mental image of starving animals. It's hard for me to believe that this was done intentionally or callously; it's hard for me to believe that this happened – period.
So, for now, I'm horrified and sad that animals were treated so poorly and died as a result. I'm disappointed that we lost a raw food brand under such dark circumstances. And I'm thankful that the surviving alpaca are in better conditions. I still have so many questions and we'll see if we get answers:
- what happened to the other animals on the property?
- did the owners of the farm realize that the alpaca were young?
- were the alpaca's starved prior to their arrival?
- how much does hay and other food for alpaca's cost?
- was there any thoughts to contacting a farm animal rescue before animals began dying?
As I said, we don't have the full story, so I won't jump to conclusions. I just have questions. Lots of them.
Articles About Thogersen Family Farm
- Stanwood Pet Food Business Charged with Animal Cruelty – GoSkagit.com
- Charges: Stanwood Farm Owners Starved Alpacas, Killing Some
I'll update this blog post when I receive more information.