Enough is Enough

At some point, it’s time to say enough is enough. For several years now, both in Canada and the U.S, there had been reports of pets sickened as a result of chicken jerky treats made in China. Last year, veterinary substantiated reports of pets eating chicken jerky treats and in some cases becoming very ill – even dying – seemed to be on the rise.

The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine began to investigate. And the agency was further pushed in February when U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio publicly interceded, and expressed concerns for pet owners at a press conference which included Ohio resident Kevin Thaxton, whose 10 year-old pug, Chancey, passed away unexpectedly after eating chicken jerky pet treats.  But Thaxton didn’t know why his dog died at that time and fed the same jerky treats to their new puppy who nearly died as a result.

To date, the FDA CVM and independent scientists have not been able to determine the problem; the agency even sent an investigator to China. “It’s a very simple product really,” says Dr. Dan McChesney, director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance at the FDA CVM, referring to how little goes into chicken jerky treats.

Put simply – the agency is stumped.

And making matters all the more confusing, the vast majority of dogs who eat jerky treats suffer no apparent ill affects after scarfing down any of the myriad of jerky treat brands.

Still, this year alone, McChesney says there have been about 1,000 complaints of pets sickened as a result of chicken jerky treats. While not all reports are absolutely substantiated, there have no doubt been pets who have become ill – but their owners never connected the treats as a possible explanation.

McChesney concedes that something must be going on. But therein lies the problem. The agency isn’t legally allowed to stop companies from distributing the products or authorizing a recall without specific scientific justification.

That hardly satisfies pet owners like Terry Safranek of Brooklyn Heights, OH. She’s confident that Waggin’ Train Wholesome Chicken Jerky caused the death of her best friend Sampson on January 13. This brand, manufactured by Nestle Purina PetCare has, thus far, done nothing, despite many complaints, and over 64,000 signatures at Safranek’s Change.org petition. Though, interestingly, the Waggin’ Train website does state last November’s FDA note of concern on their website.

I suggest that the best way to deal with this issue is the old supply and demand model. If the demand dissipates enough, those who supply the jerky will be far more motivated to figure out the issue for themselves and correct the problem.

I realize most pets have no ill affects – but what if it’s your pet that is sickened? Is purchasing chicken jerky treats really that important? Call it a boycott if you like. I think it’s less risky to choose an alternative tasty dog treat, or offer some baby carrots to your best friend – you can’t go wrong.


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Positively Expert: Steve Dale

Steve is a certified dog and cat behavior consultant, has written several books, hosts two nationally syndicated radio shows, and has appeared on numerous TV shows including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "National Geographic Explorer," and "Pets Part of the Family." Steve’s blog is www.stevedale.tv


3 thoughts on “Enough is Enough

  1. Jenny Haskins

    After my own heqalth scare, I have been looking more closely at the 'ingredients' of both human and pet foods.
    I just cannot believe the plethora of non-food additives that are put into commercially prepared froods. I suspect that it has little to mdo mwith the "China" comnnection, but is purely nd simply the cheical cocktail in such "non-food" treats.
    I think that it is well worth the time to prepare your own dog treatrs from the basic ingresdientsw. It is easy to buy cheap cuts of meat and roast it or dry it for dogs. My dogs LOVE their roast Beef Heart treats. You can dry your own liver.and meat easily -- put thin strips of whaqteer meat you want onto baking paper on a try and leave iin a very slow over for as long as it takes. If you use thincker slices it does help to dry initially to surface dryness, then 'rest' the meat dfor a day and then re-dry.
    Because IF the meat is not dry enough it might become mouldy..
    The other alternative is to keep your pure-food treats in the freezer..

    You can also make your own dog biscuits with wholemeal flour and wahtever additive you choose -- I've used, separately, cheese, egg and brewers yeast powder. My dogs are happy with them all 🙂

  2. Jenny Haskins

    PS sorry about teh typos. I couldn't see the pale blue type on white well enough to pick them 🙁

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