[History: This article first appeared on the Pet Pardons News website on February 6, 2012. It is the first installment in an ongoing report]
Bella in New York, Chansey, Ginger and Sampson in Ohio, Shelby in Pennsylvania, Sarge in Tennessee, Venus in Washington, Sherma, Tundra, Gracie Mae, Chester and Anna Claire; this is just a handful of victims of the latest deadly danger to pets.
Once again, our pets are being poisoned by the very companies that we trust to keep them healthy. Once again, beloved and innocent family members are dying from eating food items that US companies are importing from China.
Pet owners went through this in 2007, when the biggest dog food recall in U.S. history came in the wake of thousands of dead and dying pets. That year the FDA received reports of approximately 8500 animal deaths, including at least 1950 cats and 2200 dogs who died after eating contaminated food.
The 2007 recall effected brands ranging from budget labels like Ol’ Roy to top shelf brands like Royal Canin. Eventually it was determined that the contaminant was melamine, a product made in the production of plastics, and that the products had all been imported from China.
This time, there is no recall. The poisoned products are still stocked on store shelves across the country, with no indication that they will be removed any time soon. Dogs have been falling ill and dying, from puppies to seniors. The only thing they all have in common is that each of them ate dog treats imported from China.
The FDA is aware of the connection and is investigating, but so far they haven’t been able to pinpoint the contaminant.
“FDA, in addition to several animal health diagnostic laboratories in the U.S., is working to determine why these products are associated with illness in dogs. FDA’s Veterinary Laboratory Response Network (VLRN) is now available to support these animal health diagnostic laboratories. To date, scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses. FDA continues extensive chemical and microbial testing but has not identified a contaminant.” (source: FDA)
Because their tests are inconclusive, pet treat manufacturers are not required by law to recall their products, and none of them have volunteered to do so. But just because they haven’t pinpointed the contaminant doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The FDA issued a warning to pet owners in November, 2011.
The question is; how many dogs will have to die before the products are recalled? It’s already estimated that the dead and dying number more than 500. That doesn’t count all of the cases that haven’t made the connection yet between a pet’s illness and the treats. The treats are causing kidney failure and Fanconi syndrome, some cases resulting in death; others, in chronic kidney disease.
It’s been four months since the FDA warning, but the treats are still being sold, and pets are still dying.
When Purina began to receive calls from customers from pets that had become ill after eating their Waggin Train jerky treats, they initially discussed financial settlements. But when the FDA’s tests were inconclusive, they took all offers off the table.
Some consumers that have posted to Purina’s and Dogswell’s websites have been banned there.
At a news conference today (Feb. 6, 2012) in Cleveland, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich both petitioned the FDA to step up their investigation. They both called for the Food and Drug Administration to take immediate action to put a stop to their policy that allows dangerous pet treats and pet foods to remain on the market and to put an immediate stop to its continued sale.
The original article contained a long list of brands made in China. Since then, most complaints involve three major brands: Nestle Purina Waggin Train, Canyon Creek Ranch, and Milo’s Kitchen. Although these are the brands most often associated with complaints, consumers should be warned not to trust ANY brands where the treats have been manufactured in China.
If your pet has eaten tainted treats, symptoms may include:
Decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and increased urination.
If your pet is sick and you have been feeding these treats please report it to the FDA.
For now, pet owners who find the current state of this situation unacceptable, here are some suggestions:
Download the FDA warning here, and print some copies.
If you find the products in your store, remove them from the shelf, give them to store managers with a copy of the FDA warning, and ask that the store return the treats to the manufacturer.
[read the next installment here]