Every week, a truck pulls up to the county Animal Shelter in Orange. The carcasses of some 400 dead dogs, cats, bunnies and other unlucky creatures are loaded up. Then the truck hauls them to the West Coast Rendering plant in Vernon.
There, the remnants of Fido and Fluffy (alongside the carcasses of slaughtered cows, pigs, chickens and restaurant scraps) are essentially cooked at very high temperatures for hours.
What happens next?
- The entire contents of the rendering vat are expelled as one substance, which is then dried and milled, emerging as a solid. This is “dry rendered tankage,” or crude protein.
- It is then exported to “large aquacultural operations” in the Pacific Rim, where sea creatures, including shellfish, are cultivated.
Other rendering methods - not done at West Coast, its attorney stresses - separate out frothy fats (which make their way into lipsticks, lubricants, polishes, waxes); harder fats (which go into soaps, candles, drugs, gummy candies); and the densest stuff, which is dried and ground into protein powder that’s a key ingredient in animal feed.
Enough to make you a vegetarian?
Those 23,000 carcasses include:
- animals euthanized at the shelter (about 15,000),
- road kill scraped off the streets (about 8,000).
Rendering, according to the National Renderers Association, is an efficient form of recycling that plays a vital role ”in our environment and in our economy.” If you tried to burn all the animal carcasses, you’d have a heck of an air pollution problem, some renderers point out.
The obvious question for policymakers is: Can we, should we, try to reduce the number of companion animals sent to the vats?
Some want the Orange County Board of Supervisors to consider a mandatory spay and neuter law for pets to do just that. More on that tomorrow.
(Don’t know about you, but I’m having a bean burrito for dinner tonight!)
- OC’s dead pets enter the food chain, part two (the grand jury recommends mandatory spay/neuter law in OC)
- OC’s dead pets enter the food chain, part three (OC’s Board of Supervisors has the power to enact said law; will they do it?)
- OC’s dead pets enter the food chain, part four (animal activist group says mandatory spay/neuter is wrong, and have other ideas to curb the killing, coming Thursday)
- Waste not, want not (a look at the rendering industry, and some safety studies, coming next week)