Furry Friends and Feathery Foes… Is Your Pet Safe?
The Chinese chicken saga continues…
By Walker Foley
Pet owners across America have reason to fear for their furry friends’ safety. Since 2007, the FDA has been conducting an investigation into pet owners’ claims that chicken jerky treats imported from China have been the cause of canine deaths – more than 600 cases of illness and death to date.
In response to a blog by Tony Corbo focusing on questionable Chinese poultry exports, a couple of dog owners contacted Food & Water Watch with their own horror stories detailing how tainted imports sold as treats have victimized their pets.
Rita from Illinois was unable to enjoy Memorial Day this year after her German Shephard, Heidi, died two days after being fed chicken jerky treats imported from China. Unable to contact her vet over the holiday weekend, Rita watched helplessly as Heidi suffered a painful death. In her words,
“The void her passing has left in my life is almost unbearable. I live alone and Heidi was my constant companion, my loyal friend, my fierce protector.”
Terie and Alex had a similar story. In February they fed their four dogs the same jerky treats with mixed results. A day later two of them, Tashi and BJ, refused food, drank water constantly and vomited. Tashi eventually got better, but BJ’s liver, kidneys and heart failed four days later in an animal hospital. Left without any other explanation, Terie only had the treats to blame.
When roughly 62 percent of American households own a dog, it would be reasonable to assume that chicken imports would be better monitored or, failing that, better regulated. As Corbo explained, the politics of international trade are taking priority over the safety and overall quality of food imports. The result? Canine casualties, expensive vet bills and heartbroken families.
Now, it has come to light that Chinese government officials overseeing the plants that make the treats blamed for thousands of illnesses and deaths among American dogs have refused to allow U.S. inspectors to collect samples for independent analysis.
If you are concerned for your pet’s safety, there are a few precautions you can take. Several brands could be in question, but news outlets report that treats made by Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. and the Del Monte Corp. have the most complaints. Always check the country of origin labeling on your pet food containers and avoid products made in China. Commonly seen symptoms among affected dogs are loss of appetite, increased water consumption, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and increased urination. The FDA also provides more information on the problem and how to file a formal complaint, and a Facebook group has been started for more information and people whose pets may have been affected.
Join Food & Water Watch in asking FDA Commissioner Hamburg to issue a recall of the chicken jerky treats that are making pets sick, ban further imports of pet food from China and help implement new food safety laws to keep pets and people safe.