WASHINGTON -- A pack of dogs joined forces with industry and consumer groups on Monday to urge Congress to pass legislation requiring antifreeze manufacturers to make their otherwise sweet tasting product less appealing to animals and children.
With several dogs looking on, representatives of industry and animal rights groups told the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer affairs they back legislation requiring manufacturers to put an agent into antifreeze, a toxic substance, to give it a bitter taste.
Denatonium benzoate is one of the bitterest substances available and is used in other household products to discourage children from ingesting them.
Sara Amundson of the Doris Day Animal League told the panel that 1,400 children ingest antifreeze each year, and that as many as 10,000 dogs and cats a year are poisoned by it. It is the poison of choice for disgruntled people seeking to quiet a neighborhood dog.
Subcommittee Chairman George Allen, who invited pet owners to bring their dogs to the hearing, said his panel would act on legislation soon and that he expected to the full Senate to pass the measure.
"We need to be moving on this," the Virginia Republican said.
Jeffrey Bye, vice president of Prestone, a unit of Honeywell International Inc., said domestic antifreeze producers support the legislation. The industry, faced with a myriad of state and local laws requiring a bitter tasting product, joined forces last year with the Doris Day Animal League to back a national standard, he said.
The proposed bill would also protect antifreeze manufacturers from liability associated with the bitter tasting agent. Manufacturers and distributors of denatonium benzoate would be liable for that agent, while antifreeze manufacturers would continue to be liable for ethylene glycol antifreeze itself, Bye said.