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FDA seeks help solving why jerky treats are killing pets

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- After years of investigating, the Food and Drug Administration is still stumped on how jerky treats have sickened thousands of pets and killed nearly 600. This week, they put out a letter to veterinarians and pet owners, asking for their help.

"The solicitation with the FDA is if we have any of these things, they want the owners to bring in the packaging left from these products to submit to FDA to have these evaluated," said Dr. Roger Thompson, a veterinarian at Burrstone Animal Hospital in New Hartford.

A pet owner from West Winfield plans on contacting them. Chuck Goff said his dog almost died from kidney failure in 2009 after he fed her Milo's Kitchen chicken jerky treats.

"Just fatigued. Wouldn't eat and just didn't want to do anything, just laid around," said Goff. "She took a turn for the worse and started bleeding out basically."

Molly isn't alone. Since 2007, 3,600 dogs and a handful of cats have been sickened and 580 have died, according to the FDA.

"These reports are connected with initially vomiting and bloody diarrhea, but then also kidney failure," said Dr. Thompson.

The culprits are Nestle Purina Petcare Co. and Milo's Kitchen treats containing chicken, sweet potato, duck or dried fruit. The FDA has tested over a 1,200 treat samples and scientists have traveled to plants in China where they're manufactured in hopes of finding the source of the problem.

"China really isn't careful about what their products are contaminated with and the treats are not controlled by the FDA in terms of the contents of those treats, so they still have not identified what the toxic factor associated with these treats coming out of China is," said Dr. Thompson.

In January of 2013 the companies voluntarily pulled some of their products from shelves, but Molly's owner is frustrated it took so long.

"What's a few thousand dead dogs when someone's making millions," said Goff. "It's not murder unless it's a person."

The treats aren't required for a balanced diet and Dr. Thompson suggests staying away from them entirely.

"What my recommendation for people with their treats for their rewards for their dogs is fresh vegetables," said Dr. Thompson. "We have a one-year-old Sheltie that will never see a biscuit in her life."

"I guess the bottom line is if you can't eat it, don't give it to your dog because you don't know what's in it," said Goff.

If your dog or cat has been sickened or died from these treats, you can contact the FDA to help in their investigation.

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