Retail pet giants Petco and PetSmart will no longer sell chicken jerky treats made in China. Petco first said in May of 2014 it would begin removing the products and they are now out of the chain’s more than 1,300 locations. PetSmart plans to have the treats out by March of this year.
The chicken jerky treats from China have prompted thousands of complaints from concerned pet owners. According the the Food and Drug Administration, more than 5,600 dogs have been reported sick, 25 cats, and even three people since 2007. The FDA says more than 1,000 dogs have died.
NBC Bay Area first began reporting on the potentially tainted treats in 2012 after Morgan Hill dog owner Rachael Chambers reported her shepherd mix Cali died after eating chicken jerky treats from China.
Chambers was one of the first pet owners to have her dog’s body tested for the FDA’s investigation into the treats which began in 2011.
Complaints are linked to chicken, duck and sweet potato jerky treats, mostly made in China.
The FDA says it has tested the treats for salmonella, metals, antibiotics and host of toxins but so far scientists have not found anything in the treats.
They’ve also performed tests on 26 of the dogs that died. In half the cases, the FDA says the “jerky pet treats could not be ruled out” as a reason for the deaths.
Meanwhile, California based chain Pet Food Express began pulling the Chinese jerky treats from shelves back in 2012 over concerns of pet owners.
Petco Statement to NBC Bay Area:
Petco has been working internally and with vendors to make this change happen over the past few years. While Petco has not carried any dog or cat food items from China for several years, the evolution of the decision to include China-made treats meant letting go of some of our top-selling products. Petco has a big focus on providing customers with 100 percent Made in the USA jerky treats with brands including American Jerky, Blue Buffalo, Blue Ridge Naturals, Canidae, Colorado Naturals, Dogswell, Good Lovin’, Isle of Dogs, Merrick, Natural Balance, Nature’s Variety, Prairie Dog, Zuke’s and more. We are also offering an array of treats and chews from other regions of the world, including New Zealand, Australia and South America. These regions provide safe and quality sources for long-lasting chews such as bones, hooves, and bully sticks. We feel confident that our decision will not only be a welcome change for customers, but ultimately have a positive business impact. Customer response to new U.S.-made product lines has been great, and we strongly believe the benefits of providing more American-made products will outweigh any downside.
PetSmart Statement to NBC Bay Area:
By March 2015, PetSmart will no longer sell dog and cat treats manufactured in China. This is something we’ve been working toward for some time, and feel it’s the right thing to do for pets and our customers.
We follow all recommendations of the FDA and look to them for guidance. The FDA has never made a direct link between the China-made treats and the illnesses that have been reported.
We’ve listened to the concerns of our pet parents, however, and we feel removing the treats from our shelves is the right thing to do for pets and our customers.