Pet owners unite behind dog treats they claim are causing illness, death

Getty Images File PhotoDana Moskowitz joined Change.org's campaign to ban Waggin' Train jerky when she witnessed her nearly die of kidney failure after eating the dog treats.

A San Francisco pet owner has joined a national drive urging major chain stores to ban Chinese-made pet treats that campaigners hold responsible for the deaths of hundreds of dogs, a claim the company disputes and federal officials have yet to confirm.

The campaign, started on the online advocacy platform Change.org, is asking top retailers such as Safeway, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Costco to stop selling Waggin’ Train brand white chicken jerky treats, which one San Francisco pet owner says nearly killed her dog.

Dana Moskowitz — who is among more than 60,000 people Change.org said have signed petitions favoring the ban — said she witnessed her dog, Bella, almost die of kidney failure after she fed it Waggin’ Train jerky she bought at a Safeway store.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that since early 2011, consumers have reported 2,200 cases of pets that became ill and 361 reports of pets that died after eating the increasingly popular chicken jerky treats.

However, the FDA, which began its investigation into Chinese chicken jerky treats in 2007, has been unable to conclude that the treats were responsible.

The FDA did issue a warning to pet owners “to stop feeding the jerky pet treat product” if their pets show signs of poor health.

The petition effort was started by Rita Desollar, an Illinois woman who said her dog died a week after eating two pieces of Waggin’ Train chicken jerky, Change.org senior campaigner Stephanie Feldstein said.

Keith Shopp, a spokesman for Nestle Purina PetCare Co., said the company has no plans to voluntarily remove its chicken jerky treats from store shelves.

Last month, the FDA reported that U.S. imports of pet food from China had skyrocketed over the past decade, from less than 500,000 pounds in 2001 to 86 million pounds in 2011.

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