Steve Dale, USA WEEKEND contributing editor, sounds off on a potential doggie hazard.
Enough is enough. I’m now suggesting consumers consider stop buying chicken jerky for dogs made in China.
Chicken jerky treats have reportedly sickened some dogs, some have even died. The complaints have simmered on an off for several years. And the problem seems to be on the rise. Since the start of the year, the Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA CVM) has received over 800 complaints about sickened pets, and deaths, according to Dan McChesney, director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance.
While some complaints aren’t substantiated, he concedes the number of sickened pets might also be higher since not all pet owners may have
made the connection between their pet’s illness and the jerky treats.
The point is that the treats are causing illness in some pets. The problem is that despite efforts to determine the explanation, so far, scientists simply have come up empty. The FDA CVM has even sent experts to China in an effort to uncover an explanation.
Duane Ekedahl, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Pet Food Institute, points out that the vast majority of dogs who chomp on jerky treats suffer no ill effects.
That was hardly the experience of Terry Safarenek of Brooklyn Heights, Ohio. She’s confident that Waggin’ Train Jerky Tenders caused the death of her best friend Sampson on Jan. 13. Nestle Purina PetCare and Waggin’ Train posted information about FDA CVM concerns on the Waggin’ Train website but have not recalled product. Safarenek is calling for a recall on her Change.org petition, which more than 63,000 people have signed.
In February, I wrote about how U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio tried to intercede. He was successful at garnering press attention to focus on the problem. Still, even under political pressure, the FDA CVM simply has been unable to pinpoint an absolute cause responsible for sickening pets. And without a specific scientific explanation, the agency isn’t legally able to recall a product, though it has posted warnings and offer answers to questions on its website.
Perhaps the best solution is the old supply-and-demand model. Perhaps, if demand dissipates, chicken jerky suppliers will be far more motivated to correct the problem. While I realize most pets suffer no ill effects from the treats, what if it’s your pet that gets sick?
Is buying chicken jerky really that important? Call it a boycott if you like, but I think it’s less risky to choose an alternative treat.
Want to know more?
- Terry Safarenek’s Change.org petition
- Waggin’ Train Jerky Tenders
- Sen. Sherrod Brown story
- FDA answers questions about chicken jerky treats from China
Steve Dale is a certified dog/cat behavior consultant and contributing editor USA WEEKEND. Read more about him here.