WASHINGTON - Grieving pet owners are sounding an alarm about doggie treats currently under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA reports it has received thousands of complaints involving chicken jerky treats, tenders, and strips. Sometimes the jerky is wrapped around fruit or vegetables.
Over the past 18 months the FDA says 360 dogs and one cat have died in illnesses that may involve the jerky treats. Illnesses have been reported in 50 states and six Canadian provinces.
Rita Desollar, from Pekin, Ill., started a Change.org petition demanding stores remove chicken jerky dog treat products from shelves after her German shepherd, Heidi, died allegedly after eating dog treats purchased from a local Walgreens.
She says her dog died five days after eating the chicken jerky.
The petition reads:
When you sign this petition, your signature will be sent to Costco, Kroger, Safeway, Sam's Club, Target, Walgreens and Walmart so make sure to leave a comment telling your favorite stores to take these dangerous dog treats off the shelves so you can TRUST them again.
By Friday morning, 67,351 people had signed the petition.
Keri Marshall, a Bethesda resident, joined the campaign after her dog became sick after eating the same chicken jerky dog treats from a local Target.
WTOP has contacted Target, Wal-Mart, Sams Club, Costco and Walgreens to ask whether consideration is being given to the petition request.
Walgreens' Spokesman James W. Graham responded: "We take product safety very seriously and for that reason we continue to closely monitor regulatory and scientific guidance on this topic, including that of the U. S. Food and Drug Administration."
His email to WTOP also notes the FDA investigations have not yet revealed the cause of the illnesses.
The FDA information web page on the investigation into jerky pet treats says, "if the FDA identifies the cause, or a recall is initiated, the Agency will notify the public."
The FDA's investigation has even taken researchers to production plants in China. In the past decade the amount of pet food imported into the U.S. from China has exploded - increasing 85 fold according to the FDA.
This month, Nature's Deli voluntarily recalled its Chicken Jerky Dog Treats product because of concern it may be contaminated with Salmonella.
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