Almost 6,000 claims have been filed in a class-action settlement stemming from last year's massive pet-food recall.
Menu Foods, other pet-food makers and retailers in May agreed to set up a $24 million cash fund to compensate pet owners whose cats and dogs became sick or died after eating food that had a contaminated ingredient from China.
The filing period for claims began May 30 and will run until Nov. 24.
"I expect that number (of claims) will go up a lot. There's quite a bit of time to go," says attorney Sherrie Savett of plaintiffs' law firm Berger & Montague.
The Food and Drug Administration never identified how many pets were affected, but it received more than 17,000 complaints.
To be eligible, claimants must have bought or fed their pets one of the recalled pet foods.
A federal judge in New Jersey gave the settlement preliminary approval in May. A hearing for final approval is scheduled for October.
If the court approves the settlement as expected, it would resolve more than 100 lawsuits brought in the U.S. and a dozen in Canada. The $24 million is in addition to $8 million that pet-food makers have already paid to pet owners.