Dog owners have been raising a stink over some of the pet treats produced by Kasel Industries and now the company's West Denver neighbors are getting into the act as well.
The problem is the place stinks, according to more than 150 complaints the city has received in recent years.
"Caller left message regarding terrible odor. Said he was 'throwing up'," was a typical complaint recorded last year, according to Westword, a community news site.
Pet owners outside the Denver area may not care what the place smells like but many of them are irate about products Kasel has recalled in recent years, products like:
- Boots & Barkley pigs ears;
- Nature's Deli chicken jerky dog treats; and
- American Variety Pack treats, recalled today along with all other products made at the plant from April 20, 2012, thru September 19, 2012.
The recalls involve possible Salmonella contamination of the treats. This is particularly galling to pet owners who seek out pet food and treats made in the United States, hoping to avoid the dangers associated with products containing ingredients from China.
"I better start seeing this crap pulled from shelves at Petsmart... fat chance," said ConsumerAffairs reader Merri Krishnan in a Facebook posting after a batch of pig ears were recalled.
But as Merri said, fat chance. Kasel is still operating, its products can be found in most pet stores and the neighbors are still beefing, despite the recalls and the efforts of the Food and Drug Administration and the Colorado Department of Agriculture, which have both found Salmonella in some of the company's products.
The city of Denver finally got into the act, responding last year to the neighbor's complaints. It issued an odor citation to Kasel, citing a section of Denver's air pollution ordinance and informed the plant's owner, Ray Kasel, that the fine would be $500.
Now you might say that $500 is a small price to pay for making West Denver smell like a rendering plant but Ray Kasel didn't take kindly to the citation. He filed an appeal, saying the neighbors were untrustworthy and claiming the wind was blowing the stench the other way on the days the neighbors complained.
The hearing officer was not impressed and the appeal was denied. So Kasel did what any respectable pig ear entrepreneur would do. He sued the city in federal court, claiming it was conspiring against him, harassing him and violating his constitutional property rights. He also sued various city officials and some of the complaining neighbors.
Leaving aside the legal niceties, Kasel appears to be arguing that it's not his fault that dead animals smell bad and that the nature of the neighborhood has changed since he went into business in 1986.
The West Denver neighborhood -- which for some reason is called RiNo -- was for decades an industrial area. Kasel's neighbors include a sausage factory, a company that cleans septic tanks and a corned beef plant, according to Westword.
Probably none of these folks would say they should be run out of town just because some vacant industrial buildings have been turned into condos occupied by hipsters, artists and others not habituated to barnyard aromas.
As for pet owners looking for red-blooded American dog treats, our advice is to stick with baked snacks. Leave the pig ears out of it.