Fighting to get dog treats banned - Morgan Hill Times: Community

Fighting to get dog treats banned

MH woman thinks chicken jerky dog treats to blame for her pet’s death

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Posted: Monday, July 16, 2012 5:25 pm

A Morgan Hill woman’s beloved German shepherd/great Dane mix, Cali, became gravely ill this summer after eating dog treats imported from China that federal regulators have been warning consumers about for years, and now she’s on a mission to convince the manufacturer to recall the potentially hazardous products.

Earlier this month, two of Rachael Chambers’ other dogs became sick after eating the same treats, but they survived.

Chambers thinks the “mystery” culprit in all three cases is the Del Monte Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky treats that she used to give to her four dogs.

Cali died about 5:45 a.m. May 30 at the age of 11.5, according to Chambers, a Morgan Hill resident. The dog was given the Milo’s Kitchen treats, which she had eaten before, and within hours she lost her appetite, became lethargic and started vomiting.

“If a dog could look green, she did,” Chambers said.

Cali’s veterinarian couldn’t find a cause for the illness and sent the dog home with Chambers. After the dog ate dinner that night, she threw up again. Chambers and her husband placed the pet on her bed, where she began dry heaving later that night.

The next morning the couple went downstairs and found that Cali had “collapsed and died,” Chambers said.

Morgan Hill pet supply store An-Jan Feed and Pet Supply does not carry the Milo’s Kitchen treats or any Chinese-made chicken jerky pet products, according to store employee Tyler Robison. The store only sells American-made pet treats.

“The ingredients are held to a higher standard” in the U.S., Robison said.

Store employees have heard about the Milo’s Kitchen complaints, and have heard from other consumers who have said they will not buy the chicken jerky treats.

She connected the dots and suspected the Milo’s Kitchen treats were the source of the sickness. After some research, she was prompted to write up and circulate an online petition to convince Del Monte and Purina who makes two similar products – all of which are made in China – to issue a “voluntary recall.” Specifically, the petition refers to the Milo’s Kitchen treats, as well as Purina’s Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch chicken jerky dog treats.

Del Monte did not reply to a request for comment and answers to a list of questions.

While the federal Food and Drug Administration has not identified the products by brand name, it has issued consumer advisories about “chicken jerky products for dogs” that are imported from China, according to the FDA website. The first advisory was issued in September 2007, and the most recent advisory was released November 2011.

As of the first warning in 2007, the FDA received more than 70 complaints about the products, involving nearly 100 dogs that have suffered illness or death after eating the products. The agency reported a rising number of complaints in 2011.

The complainants have reported symptoms similar to those described by Chambers: loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and kidney failure, according to the FDA.

Most of the dogs who have complained have survived, the advisory said.

However, even though the agency has “conducted extensive chemical and microbial testing,” it has not been able to pinpoint the cause of the illnesses or identify any possible toxins or contaminants, according to the FDA.

Chambers, who describes herself as “incredibly passionate” about animal health and her dogs, reported Cali’s death to the FDA herself, and the regulator agreed to pay for a $1,600 autopsy on her dog. The investigation determined that Cali’s stomach flipped, a condition caused by a bloated stomach, and she choked on her own vomit.

The autopsy also prompted a toxicology screen on her dog’s carcass, and that study is still under way, Chambers said.

Furthermore, a puppy owned by Chambers was sick for about two days after eating the Milo’s Kitchen treats, and another of her dogs who fell ill is “getting better” after taking antibiotics and pain medications for the last 14 days.

Chambers’ petition has so far been signed by 361 people from 23 states and eight countries. She hopes to convince Del Monte and Purina to stop distributing the chicken jerky treats until they are proven to be safe.

The petition letter, posted on, says about Cali, “Her death was painful and violent. Her loss has been overwhelming. It’s left a void in our lives and many unanswered questions. After all the years of watching over, protecting our family, and being our loyal friend, she didn’t deserve what happened to her.”

At least two more petitions asking for a recall of one or more of the same products are found on the website.

She said without a definitive cause of the reported illnesses and no identifiable contaminants, the FDA cannot issue a formal recall on the products. Plus, some dogs seem to be unaffected by the treats when eaten, though those who have fallen ill or dead have been of a variety of breeds, ages and sizes.

That’s why she’s pleading with the companies to voluntarily recall the treats.

“I recognize that I can’t bring Cali back, but what I can do is help save others by educating and giving them the information that I did not have when I made this purchase,” Chambers said. “The FDA and the distributors have known for five years that these dogs have been dying.”

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  • hypocrisyhater posted at 11:08 am on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    hypocrisyhater Posts: 234

    We could hand these out to all the local pit bull owners.


  • fredoliveri posted at 10:37 am on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    fredoliveri Posts: 285

    What is the largest country buying American made products? China. Who is Boeing's largest customer. Yep, China. Apple products made in China are also sold in China at a 3 to 1 ratio. Govt mandate and law on light bulbs phasing out the incandescent bulbs and replacing with CFL are all made off shore, why? Answer, EPA regulations against using mercury. Yes, I have been to China about 20 times and still trade with their high tech products. Your cell phones work because of the cell stations linear amps have Isolators in them with high tech magnets made in China. Cannot get them here. Rare earth. Yep, I imported them. That said, why would you buy food products made in China. There is a store in MH selling imported from China garlic and we have garlic from Gilroy down the street labeled imported from China. Why buy something you are going to ingest from China?

  • tripomchews posted at 4:04 am on Mon, Jul 23, 2012.

    tripomchews Posts: 1

    If you’re looking for a SAFE, REAL ‘American Made’ chicken jerky for dogs, we started making our own Chicken Jerky for our 3 dogs in after we ran across the FDA warning of 2008. It turned into a cottage "Mom & Pop" business and we now sell our TriPom Chews online and in 20 stores in the New England area. Our products are the only homemade, handmade, ‘Maine Made’, ‘American Made’ Chicken Jerky produced from whole, restaurant-quality chicken breasts containing NO Additives and NO Preservatives.

  • WilliamYancey posted at 3:02 pm on Wed, Jul 18, 2012.

    WilliamYancey Posts: 390

    I'm heartened by the number of people I encounter who do recognize the problem, even if they aren't ready to completely swear off purchasing Chinese products. In my more cynical moments, I feel like there isn't anyone around who even recognizes the problem. But, a lot of people do. That does give me hope.

  • WhigParty posted at 2:48 pm on Wed, Jul 18, 2012.

    WhigParty Posts: 20

    Sadly, you're probably right Billy. But my optimism forces me to think we are slowly opening our collective eyes to the damage, environmental, social, economic and health just to name a few, that Chines products are doing. Not just to the U.S., but to the whole world.

  • WilliamYancey posted at 2:35 pm on Wed, Jul 18, 2012.

    WilliamYancey Posts: 390

    Americans will never willingly surrender their cheap Chinese garbage. That's what freedom is about for most people: consumption.

  • WhigParty posted at 2:18 pm on Wed, Jul 18, 2012.

    WhigParty Posts: 20

    Here's an idea...don't but things from China. Especially something that will be ingested buy you or anyone or thing you even remotely care about.

  • Sharkie19 posted at 8:21 pm on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    Sharkie19 Posts: 1

    Thank you to the Morgan Hill Times and Michael Moore for helping save lives.

    Here is the direct link to the petition:

  • 34DEFENSE posted at 6:55 pm on Mon, Jul 16, 2012.

    34DEFENSE Posts: 3

    It seems like everything is made in china these days. Cheap labor