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.
Animal owners are once again at the mercy of pet food companies, as their pets are being poisoned by the very people that they trust to keep them healthy. Once again, claim pet owners, their beloved and innocent family members are dying from eating food items that US companies are importing from China.
Pet owners went through a similar scare 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 varying age from puppies to seniors have been falling ill and dying and the only thing the dogs 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.”
Because tests by the FDA are inconclusive, pet treat manufacturers are not required by law to recall their products, and none of them have volunteered to do so. But given that the tests have not pinpointed the contaminant does not mean it is not contaminated. The FDA issued a warning to pet owners in November, 2011 in regards to this issue.
The question many are asking is how many dogs will have to die before the products are recalled? It is already estimated that the dead and dying are numbered at more than 500. This number does not count all of the cases that have not made the connection yet between a pet’s illness and the treats. The treats are causing kidney failure and Fanconi syndrome, with some cases resulting in death; others, in chronic kidney disease.
Four months has passed since the FDA warning yet the treats are still being sold, and pets are still dying.
When Purina began to receive calls from customers whose pets had become ill after eating their Waggin Train jerky treats, they initially discussed financial settlements, but when the FDA’s tests came back with inconclusive results, Purina took all offers off the table. Some consumers who have posted about pet’s illnesses on Purina’s and Dogswell’s websites have been banned from posting there any longer.
At a news conference today 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.
So far, the list of brands with treats made in China that are linked to pet illness and deaths are:
- Waggin Train
- Canyon Creek Ranch
- Booda Bones – Aspen Pet
- Milo’s Kitchen
- American Kennel Club
- Ever Pet ($$ General)
- Home Pet 360
- Walgreen’s new brand – Simple
If your pet has eaten tainted treats, symptoms may include:
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased activity
- Increased water consumption
- Increased urination
If your pet is sick and you have been feeding it these treats please report it to the FDA.
For now, pet owners who find the current state of this situation unacceptable are urged by animal advocacy groups to take the following actions.
- 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.
About the author: Ariel Wulff is an author, artist and animal advocate. She has worked in animal rescue for more than 24 years, authoring the book Born Without a Tail, a memoir of her experiences with rescued animals. She writes a column as the Cleveland Pets Examiner, and is the National Animal Books Examiner. She also maintains a personal blog about dogs: Up on the Woof, and uses her yelodoggie art to spread the joy of living with dogs.
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