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More people come forward alleging a pet food maker compromised their health

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More people come forward alleging a pet food maker compromised their health.  The Mars Petcare facility in Galena, Kansas closed last year.  Company officials cited a decrease in demand for products manufactured there.  

An attorney from Kansas City, Missouri says he's already representing eight former workers of Mars Petcare.  Another four people might soon be transferred to him from a Joplin attorney, bringing the total number of plaintiffs to twelve.

But there's one other former employee who says he's been forced to pursue legal action on his own.  We've agreed to not release his identity.

The man we talked with worked at this pet food manufacturing facility from 2002 to 2005, back when it was operated by Doane Petcare.  He checked grain as it was unloaded, and worked his way up to being a supervisor.  Shortly after he stopped working at the facility, his wife noticed changes in his health.

"In 2006, we had thought it was a really bad case of the flu, lasting a couple of weeks.  Ear infections," says the wife.

Symptoms worsened.

"It was almost like he had Alzheimer's," says the wife.

The former worker says he's been diagnosed with several benign tumors, affecting his memory, cognitive skills, and ability to walk.

"Probably the worst part is realizing how its affected my interacting with my kids and my family," says the former worker.

"In 2009, we had out youngest son.  He (her husband) doesn't remember anything.  He was so sick, I had to drive him home after having the baby.  Its taken him piece by piece.  He's stuck in his own body," says the wife.

The couple says government documents show pesticide chemicals used at the facility, like phosphine, have been linked to causing such health issues.

"The mastocytosis, its where you actually have too many mass cells in your body.  And so if he rubs up against a wall, anything, it doesn't matter, he breaks out in hives.  If he's not on medicine, he'll have them to where he has to sleep on ice packs," says the wife.

The couple argues workers weren't aware of the severity of these chemicals, and proper safety standards weren't in place at the facility.  The wife says her husband was only advised to wear steel toed boots.

"So his toes are great," says the wife.

But the wife of this former worker says attorneys representing other former employees at this facility won't represent her husband, because the lawsuits involve Mars Petcare, who purchased the facility from Doane Petcare.  The couple's contention is there was a different name, but same neglect for safety.

"Doane is just a subsidiary," says the wife.

The woman has chosen to represent her husband in their own, separate lawsuit.

"I want them to fix what they broke.  I want them to fix him," says the wife, although she knows that's not possible.

"I don't know if they can fix me.  But they definitely need to take care of my family," says the former worker.

The attorney representing several former workers from Mars Petcare says he hopes to be in court with the lawsuits by the end of this year, or the beginning of next year.  An attorney representing Mars Petcare has not returned our call for comment on this story.

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