Pentobarbital, a drug that is used to anesthetize or put down dogs and is used in the cocktail of drugs to execute prisoners, was found in canned dog food.

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A Washougal, Clark County, dog has died and three became ill after eating canned dog food that contained pentobarbital, a drug that is used to anesthetize or put down dogs. It is also used in a cocktail of drugs to execute prisoners in at least 14 states.

Evanger’s voluntarily recalled five lots of its food as a result, including its top seller — Hunk of Beef products — that were manufactured the same week, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hunk of Beef is Evanger’s No. 1 seller, and more than 1 million cans are sold per year, the company said.

Pentobarbital was found in one lot of the dog food, the Wheeling, Ill.-based company said.

Evanger’s is paying the ill dogs’ vet bills and making a donation to a local shelter in honor of Talula, one of four pugs owned by Nikki Mael and her family in Washougal, who were sickened by the dog food, the Detroit Free Press reported. Talula died.

The source of the contamination is still unknown, The Washington Post reported. But because pentobarbital is routinely used to euthanize animals, the most likely way it could get into dog food would be in rendered animal products, according to a 2002 FDA report. Rendered products undergo a process that converts animal tissues to feed ingredients, the report stated, and pentobarbital seems to be able to survive this process. If animals are euthanized with pentobarbital and subsequently rendered, pentobarbital could remain in the rendered feed ingredients.

But, Evanger’s said, research suggests pentobarbital is most pervasive in dry dog foods that source rendered ingredients, unlike Evanger’s, which primarily manufactures canned foods that would not contain any rendered materials.

The company said it was previously “unaware of the problem of pentobarbital in the pet food industry.” It said that after looking into it and speaking with several suppliers, it discovered a number of holes in regulations by the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), according to the Post.

Mael said her four pugs — Tito, Talula, Tinkerbell and Tank — started acting strangely after she fed them Evanger’s Hunk of Beef with au jus canned wet food as a special New Year’s Eve treat, according to a NBC4 report last month. Shortly after, she knew something was horribly wrong.

“I fed them one can and within 15 minutes, they were acting drunk, walking around, they couldn’t … they were falling over,” Mael told KATU. “So I grabbed them all and I took them to the emergency vet, and when I got them there, they were limp. They weren’t moving or anything.”

The dogs went into the ICU right away, she said. Three of them survived.

“Tito and Talula ate the most,” Mael said. Tito was still suffering from seizures days later, and Talula died.

Fifteen states are affected by the recall. The 12-ounce cans were sold in stores and online in Washington, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, the FDA says.

Evanger’s recalled Hunk of Beef products with lot numbers that start with 1816E03HB, 1816E04HB, 1816E06HB, 1816E07HB and 1816E13HB, and expire June 2020. The second half of the bar code on the back of the label says 20109.

Mael’s dogs ate from the 1816E06HB13 lot that was purchased at a local Washougal pet store, according to the company. It was manufactured in June 2016. Evanger’s said the entire lot went to one distributor in Washington state, and no other cans from this lot were distributed elsewhere.

All Evanger’s suppliers of meat products are approved by the USDA, the company says.

“We feel that we have been let down by our supplier, and in reference to the possible presence of pentobarbital, we have let down our customers,” the company said in a news release on its website, adding that it’s the first recall in 82 years of manufacturing.

Evanger’s said it has terminated its relationship with that supplier after 40 years, though that company services “many other pet-food companies.”

Chelsea Sher, whose parents own the company, said in a video statement that the company’s goal is now to “close that gap” to ensure that no euthanized animal ever makes it into the pet-food stream.

“What we learned was that pentobarbital is very highly controlled, and that, if an animal is euthanized, it is done so by a veterinarian,” the company said. Once this process has concluded, there is no regulation requiring the veterinarian to place a marker on the animal indicating it has been euthanized and “guaranteeing that product from euthanized animals cannot enter the food chain,” the company said in a statement on its website.

In addition to being used on animals, pentobarbital has been used in a cocktail of drugs to execute prisoners in at least 14 states, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Dr. Alan Lewis of DePorre Veterinary Hospital in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., advised dog owners to take the recall seriously.

“I would be vigilant of any of those things,” he said. “Call your vet to see if they have any more information. In most cases, they’re just taking abundance of caution.”

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-847-537-0102 10 a.m.-5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday. Pentobarbital can cause drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea and sometimes death, the company said.