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Chicken Jerky Imported From China Sickening Dogs

Not everyone was flocking to Walmart stores in search of bargains on Black Friday.

You may have seen news coverage of Wal-Mart workers protesting over health care and wages.

There was another group upset at the world’s biggest retailer and¬†making its feelings known yesterday: pet owners.

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Animal lovers organized a¬†“Black Friday for Pets”¬†to urge Wal-Mart to pull the plug on imports of chicken jerky treats from China, which have been¬†linked to hundreds of dog deaths and illnesses.

The statistics are alarming. Since 2007, the FDA has received 2,200 complaints from pet owners who claim that their animals suffered illness or death after eating the treats. At least 360 dogs and one cat, who ingested the treats died, usually from kidney failure, owners say.

The FDA has issued three warnings about the products in the past five years but has not yet found a cause for the illnesses and has not issued any recalls.

Protest organizers say Walmart carries the popular treat brands – Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch, both produced by Nestle Purina and made in China – and they say if Walmart stops, other retailers will too,¬†according ABCNews.

Susan Thixton, editor of a¬†website¬†that has been following the Chinese jerky treat issue, is one of the event¬†organizers. “Pets are continuing to die from these treats,” she told ABC News. “Clearly there’s an issue with them, they’re unsafe. We’re doing this to save pets’ lives.”

In a statement to ABC News, a Wal-Mart representative said the company is continuing to closely monitor the issue “and will take “appropriate action” if the FDA establishes a connection between the Chinese made treats and the pet¬†deaths.

Wal-Mart also says it encourages consumers to reach out directly to the FDA or the manufacturers of the products.

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But many pet owners aren’t waiting for Wal-Mart to respond. They are shopping for U.S.-made treats. And at least one pet retailer is listening – at least partially. I happened to be in PetSmart today on a cat litter run and stopped in the dog treat aisle to see if PetSmart carried the products in question. I didn’t see them, but I did hear a PetSmart employee explaining to a customer that many of the dog treats are U.S. made and pointing out the brands to her.

A Google search, though, reveals that PetSmart does indeed carry both Waggin Train and Canyon Creek Ranch brands both made by Nestle/Purina.

Criticism over the¬†fact the company carries the treats¬†runs rampant on the Internet. PetSmart¬†has tried to¬†ease¬†consumers’ fears by assuring¬†them they¬†inspect the factories and are confident the treats are safe.

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