Petition Launched to Remove Tainted Pet Treats from Stores

Angry consumers have launched a petition to remove tainted pet treats from store shelves following ongoing pet illnesses and deaths. Manufacturers have not issued any recalls for potentially tainted products and U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) officials say that ongoing testing and probes have not revealed any contaminants that would warrant recalls, said NBC News.

Not everyone agrees. Rita Desollar, continues to grieve over the loss of German Shepherd, Heidi, 8, said NBC News. Desollar, 57, gave Heidi two pieces of Waggin’ Train chicken jerky tenders on a Wednesday; Heidi died the next Monday. “I didn’t know what it was. I just couldn’t figure out what made her so sick,” Desollar told NBC News. Desollar investigated and found dozens of news stories and blogs about government cautions and links between Chinese-made chicken jerky treats and pet deaths and illnesses. Desollar told NBC News that “They’re leaving a product on the shelf that can potentially harm a dog. There was no warning. There was nothing to tell me this was under investigation. They just left it out there.”

On September 5. Desollar launched a Change.org petition calling for stores to pull the dangerous products; the petition has gathered over 60,000 signatures. She has also ordered a host of supplies to spread the word. “I leave the cards on the shelves by the dangerous treats everywhere I see them,” she said. “I have distributed over 1,500 of these cards, to date,” she told NBC News.

Retailers, pet treat manufacturers, and FDA officials maintain that no confirmed connection between the Chinese-made jerky treats and illnesses has been made. Meanwhile, no less than 2,200 illnesses and the deaths of 360 dogs and 1 cat have been blamed on the products since 2007, said NBC News. “This is a very complex public health investigation,” the FDA’s Steven Solomon, a veterinarian and deputy associate commissioner of compliance policy, told NBC News this week. “The tests have not demonstrated significant toxicants.”

Purina PetCare Co., seller of Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek treats, continue to maintain that its testing has not revealed any issues and that the treats are safe to be consumed, as directed. Meanwhile, Susan Nichols, 64, believes jerky treats caused kidney failure in her 11-year-old Cocker spaniel-dachshund mix, Lucy, in 2011, said NBC News. Nichols printed fliers she leaves in stores where the products are sold. “If I’m in Walmart or wherever, I will take my little Scotch tape out of my purse and tape it there,” she said. “It’s just a little thing I do. I’ll just slap one up.”

Jeff Zolman, 42, was devastated when his 9-year-old dog, Bandit, succumbed to the treats and created posters with Bandit’s picture to bring to the Big Lots where he bought the treats he believes caused her death. Zolman told NBC News, “The manager said he couldn’t post anything up unless it came from corporate.”

“We’re really sticking with the science at this point,” said Craig Wilson, vice president of food safety and quality assurance at Costco, said NBC News. Costco is one of the stores identified in Desollar’s petition. “I don’t think people understand how hard Costco looks at this,” Wilson said. “If there’s a hole in this boat, I’d like to be the guy who finds it.” Walmart, Sam’s Club, Target, Safeway, Kroger, and Walgreens are also named. And, PetSmart, which was not named, said in a statement that, “At this time, we have no immediate plans to remove product from shelves,” according to NBC News.

We recently wrote that China refuses to allow the FDA to inspect a plant there that manufactured the pet treats in question. CBS13 reported that the agency knew about the deadly issues since 2007, sending investigators to Chinese plants for years. Now, FDA records reveal that Chinese officials are not cooperating with the investigation. China says it requires “having the samples analyzed in a Chinese laboratory” and is not allowing American regulators to bring any samples back to the United States for testing,

One class action lawsuit had been filed over jerky treat pet deaths linked to chicken jerky treats manufactured in China, according to prior FDA information. Also, dog owners in eight states have come together in a class action lawsuit against Nestle Purina—which makes two of the treats—after their pets were sickened or died following consumption of the Chinese-made jerky. Defendants also involve some of the large, mega-stores that sell the products. The complaints involved Nestle Purina Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brands and Del Monte Corp.’s Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats. Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats are produced and supplied by JOC Great Wall Corp. Ltd. of Nanjing, China.

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