By Dr. Becker
Owners whose dogs died after eating chicken jerky dog treats from China aren’t taking the heartbreaking loss of their pets lying down. They believe the lack of recalled products and the FDA’s website-only warning to pet owners is an unacceptable response to a situation that is several years old and has, as of July 31, caused illness in 1,500 dogs and killed another 300.
As I mentioned in an earlier article, in April of this year, Chicago-area dog owner Dennis Adkins filed a federal class action lawsuit against Nestlé Purina Petcare, Waggin’ Train, Wal-Mart, and other unnamed entities involved in the manufacture, sale, distribution and marketing of the dog treats1.
Mr. Adkins lost his 9 year-old Pomeranian after the dog was fed Nestlé Purina’s Waggin’ Train Yam Good dog treats. His lawsuit has expanded to include seven other pet owners across the U.S., and may join with another lawsuit filed by a Connecticut pet owner in June.
The Adkins lawsuit also expanded the list of defendants to include Target and Costco.
Despite Hundreds of Sick and Dead Dogs, “Wholesome” Treats Remain on Store Shelves
The lawsuit alleges that despite receiving over 500 complaints that chicken jerky dog treats imported from China cause sickness and/or death in dogs, Nestlé Purina and Waggin’ Train continued to market their product as “wholesome” and added no warnings to packaging.
The lawsuit further alleges that Nestlé Purina and Waggin’ Train were aware of the potential for death or harm from its chicken jerky treats and intentionally hid facts concerning the safety of the treats for the purpose of increasing or maintaining sales.
Nestlé Purina’s response to consumer and media inquiries related to their Waggin’ Train product is to point to the “FAQ” section of its website2, where the company incorporates the following statement into several answers regarding the safety of chicken jerky treats:
According to the FDA, “Samples collected from all over the United States have been tested for a wide variety of substances and to date, scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses.”
As for the FDA, they continue to maintain that despite ongoing reports of illness in pets, they are unable to issue a recall:
"Unless a contaminant is detected and we have evidence that a product is adulterated, we are limited in what regulatory actions we can take. The regulations don't allow for products to be removed based on complaints alone. This is an ongoing investigation and FDA will notify the public if a recall is initiated. Currently, FDA continues to urge pet owners to use caution with regard to chicken jerky products."
Just Say NO to All Store Bought Chicken Jerky Pet Treats
I’ll repeat my usual warning - avoid all these types of pet treats unless you can confirm they were not only “assembled” in the U.S., but the ingredients originated here as well. And I urge you to apply this guideline to ALL pet treats.
If you need to report a pet food complaint, you can do it at fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.