Petco Empties Shelves of Chinese Treats After Dog Deaths

Petco store in San Jose, California
Petco, one of the nation's largest pet food retailers, said it has removed all dog and cat treats made in China from its stores. The decision, which took the chain months to accomplish, came after thousands of dogs across the country were sickened after eating Chinese-made jerky pet treats, killing at least 1,000 pets.

Consumers trying to avoid pet treats from China have had a hard time sorting out which treats were made where because it often isn't clear from packaging, particularly when the manufacturer is an established U.S. brand. So, Petco's move, the first to take such a step among nationwide pet retailers, removes the guesswork for those shopping for their pets.

"As a trusted partner for pet parents, we believe this is the right thing to do, and we're proud to take this step in the best interest of pets," Petco CEO Jim Myers said. "What we feed our pets matters, and this milestone supports the company's steadfast commitment to putting our customers, partners, animals and the communities we serve first."

The chain said it has expanded its U.S.-made pet treat offerings and cited surveys that show dog owners, in particular, are concerned about contaminated pet food and want to buy domestically made products. Petco said, though, that it will also carry treats made in South America, Australia, New Zealand and other countries that have made a commitment to pet health.

U.S. brands of treats being carried at Petco stores include Blue Buffalo, Blue Ridge Naturals, Canidae, Colorado Naturals, Dogswell, Good Lovin', Isle of Dogs, Merrick and Natural Balance.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has been investigating the pet food-related sicknesses and deaths for years, has yet to come up with specific reason for why the treats killed pets.

Retailers and manufacturers have been under pressure to stop selling pet treats using ingredients from China. Purina's Waggin' Train and Del Monte's Milo's Kitchen dog treats, for example, were removed from store shelves in 2013 during the investigation. Milo's Kitchen announced it now uses only domestic chicken products.

Waggin' Train, however, it uses Chinese chicken in its "Chicken Jerky Tenders" that Purina says is safe. Here's what they have to say:

"New Waggin' Train Chicken Jerky Tenders are made with real white meat chicken in China, where we now source our chicken exclusively from a single, trusted chicken supplier, which is part of a U.S.-based company. In China, the dark meat chicken is preferred for human food production, so the quality white meat chicken is available for our jerky dog treats."
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