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.
- Steve’s blog with more details from Senator Sherrod Brown
- Waggin’ Train site
- Safranek’s petition
- The FDA answers questions regarding chicken jerky treats
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