According to a May 16 investigation update from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 1,000 dogs have died and thousands of complaints have surfaced since 2007 about illnesses in dogs and some cats potentially linked to Chinese pet treats. While FDA has stated that the deaths and illnesses may be associated with the consumption of pet jerky treats (typically chicken) from China, the agency still has not pinpointed a specific cause despite ongoing tests for numerous potential contaminants. FDA officials have said of the 4,800 reported pet illnesses, “about 60 percent are for gastrointestinal illness (with or without elevated liver enzymes) and about 30 percent relate to kidney or urinary signs. The remaining 10 percent of cases involve a variety of other signs, including convulsions, tremors, hives, and skin irritation.” This past week, two of the nation’s largest pet retailers — Petco Animal Supplies Inc., and PetSmart Inc. — announced that they will stop selling dog and cat treats made in China. San Diego, CA-based Petco indicated that it plans to have all Chinese-made pet treats off the shelves of its 1,300 stores by the end of this year. “We’ve been following the FDA warnings and related customer concerns closely, and we’ve been actively reducing our China-made assortment and expanding our American-made offerings for several years now,” said Petco CEO Jim Myers. About half of the jerky treats currently sold at Petco stores nationwide are from China. The company will now transition to carrying treats made in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and South America, Myers said. PetSmart, based in Phoenix, AZ, announced plans to remove China-sourced treats from its outlets by next spring. “By March 2015, PetSmart will no longer sell dog and cat treats manufactured in China. This is something we’ve been working toward for some time, and feel it’s the right thing to do for pets and our customers,” Erin Gray, a PetSmart spokeswoman, told NBC News. FDA is coordinating further investigation into the problem with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is advising people who feed their dogs pet jerky treats to watch closely for any or all of the following signs which may occur hours or days after consumption of the products: decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), increased water consumption and/or increased urination. If any or all of those are observed, people are advised to immediately stop feeding the jerky pet treats and consult a veterinarian if the signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours.

  • Tracey Atkinson-Bagatta

    May 26, 2014 at 11:18am

    Open Letter to James M. Myers, CEO of PetCo & David K. Lenhardt, CEO of PetSmart

    We applaud the recent decision made by your respective companies to stop carrying pet treats made in China.

    Your decision to finally listen to your customers, and do the right thing is commendable. Your
    actions could be the start of a new era in the pet treat industry,
    where healthy domestic products dominate the shelves in this country!

    Please make no mistake, we wholly grasp the magnitude of this move, but we
    want to tell you why it’s not enough – and to also give you a challenge.

    We are Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made In China. You know who we are. We are the grieving pet owners who have been beating at your doors for well over 2 years. You
    have seen our Facebook page, you have been in our victims’ group. You
    were aware of the FDA cautions. You have been at the receiving end of
    countless letters, emails and petitions. For years, your loyal customers
    have spoken face to face with your employees, and begged you to remove
    these risky products.

    During these 2.5 years we have watched the deaths associated with imported
    jerky treats climb to the current number of over 1000. 1000 deaths! More
    than 1 beloved pet was dying a horrible, painful death every single day
    in this country. Now, add in the over 4800 pets who didn’t die – and
    the unreported masses. The ones who suffered a simple
    gastro upset and the ones who clung to life in veterinary ICU’s across
    the USA. Thousands of pets were nursed back to health, a thousand
    couldn’t be saved – all at an unimaginable emotional cost and
    substantial financial cost to shocked and stunned pet parents.

    Then, on May 16, the FDA issued its most current numbers – those numbers now
    included 3 humans – and suddenly, within the space of 4 days, you
    announced that you would be phasing out all treats made in China. Our response was one of GREAT joy and relief and we promoted these decisions with great fanfare. We will continue to praise your actions, and encourage our members to appreciate the complexity and difficulty of your action.

    However, we have to wonder 3 things:

    *If those 3 humans had not been taken ill, would you leave the treats on your shelves and still be willing to see our dogs die?

    *WHY is it going to take SO LONG to get MIC treats off of your shelves?

    *Why stop at MIC – why not include ingredients sourced in China?

    Here is our challenge to you:

    Remove all MADE IN CHINA treats and food items from your stores no later than July 4, 2014.

    Think about it. This is a red, white and blue opportunity for you! You could
    take advantage of one of the most amazing promotional opportunities you
    will ever get. We believe the current stock can be traded
    back to the vendors for new products that were not made in China –
    Milo’s Kitchen, for example, who has committed to Made in the USA
    products. YOU have that buying power and you should wield it.

    Concerned about empty shelves and walls?? Put up your awesome signage letting
    your patrons know you heard them and you CARE enough to have removed
    these potentially lethal products. And then, on the holiday weekend of July 4th, proclaim your TRUE compassion with a China-free treat & food zone
    and FREE samples of one of the many wonderful domestic treats – we KNOW
    you can get several pawsome companies to come through with samples!!

    So what do you say, Mr. Myers and Mr. Lenhardt – the ball is in your yard –
    follow through with your commitment in a timely manner and REALLY show
    your loyal customers you care. On behalf of our 24,000 members, we ask you to meet our challenge. You have taken the lead so far – now really set an example for the rest of the industry.

    Tracey Bagatta, Ray Parker, Robin Pierre, Steve Poponick, Terry Safranek, Kaly White
    Co-founders, Animal Parents Against Pet Treats and Food Made in China

    • Oginikwe

      This is great!
      “Phase out” really illustrates just how much these two companies care about their customers and their pets. I will never go into one of their outlets again.

  • grifty

    I don’t know why anyone would buy any food product made in China. Ever. Given the amount of control the government of China has over its citizens, the only explanation for the constant stream of contaminants we see in their food is that they don’t care. Don’t buy Chinese junk.