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PetSmart & Petco to pull China-made jerky treats off their shelves - finally

By John Woestendiek

By John Woestendiek
Special to the Courier

After thousands of reported illnesses and 1,000 dog deaths, PetSmart and Petco have announced they will stop selling all dog and cat treats made in China.
What took the retailers so long to reach the decision, and why it will take them seven to 10 months more to purge store shelves of such items, remain questions worth asking.
So too is why the US Food and Drug Administration, which has been investigating the treats for years - without determining what about them is making dogs sick - can't tell us much more than "CAUTION," with an exclamation point.
PetSmart said it will pull from the shelves all of the China-made treat it sells by March 2015.
Petco said it would accomplish that by the end of this year.
Both retailers have about 1,300 stores nationwide.
The two national pet retailers' decisions came after seven years of complaints to the US Food and Drug Administration about jerky treats from China making pets sick, or worse.
"We know some pet parents are wary of dog and cat treats made in China, especially chicken jerky products, and we've heard their concerns," said Jim Myers, Petco CEO, in a statement.
A PetSmart spokesperson, meanwhile, told USA Today it has been working toward this goal "for some time, and feel it's the right thing to do for pets and our customers."
Taking questionable Chinese-made treats off the shelves strikes us as a pretty simple task, as opposed to "a goal to work toward." You just pick them up and put them in the garbage. And while "hearing customer concerns" is commendable, it shouldn't take three or four years for them to sink in.
The move comes as sales of Chinese made jerky treats diminish, amid increasing public concerns about them.
Five years ago, 90 percent of the pet industry's jerky treats were made in China, said Lisa Stark, spokeswoman for Petco. Currently, about 50 percent of the jerky treats sold by Petco are from China.
Since 2007, the FDA says it has received about 4,800 reports of pet illnesses, and 1,000 dog deaths, possibly related to the consumption of jerky treats. The FDA, while issuing warnings, says it has yet to establish any direct link between the pet illnesses and the China-made treats.
Most of the complaints involved chicken jerky, but others included duck, sweet potato and chicken, according to the FDA.