Prepare for a fiery blast.
First up, you need to know that when someone - anyone - hurts someone or something I love, I go into "Mama Bear" mode. I'm instinctively protective.
When someone - anyone - treats me with platitudes about the harm done....well...see "hell" and "fury" and "woman scorned" above.
It started off with my wanting to do something 'special' for my wonderful dog, Theo. A neighbor had made some chicken and beef jerky for her dog in her own kitchen and gave a piece of chicken jerky to Theo. He loved it. LOVED. It. Gobbled it down in the small pieces I had broken off to give him.
So, the next time I was at the market, I bought some for him. Not just any brand. The top shelf stuff. Milo's Kitchen "home style" brand. He has eaten their beef jerky without difficulty. So, I thought, well, why not try the chicken jerky?
I admit. I didn't look at the label. I knew it was made by Del Monte - a trusted name in vegetables and other canned goods, some under the "Contadina" label. Indeed, they also make "9-Lives" Cat Food, "Meow Mix", "Gravy Train" dog food as well as "Nature Recipe".
I didn't notice that the package of chicken jerky said that it was "Made in China".
Apparently, the chicken jerky is the only one of the dog treats made by Del Monte which is actually made in China.
I fed him a small piece in the late morning and another small piece in the late afternoon. I still had half of a piece left for the next day - as well as the entire rest of the package.
The next morning, Theo became violently ill. Retching. Diarrhea. Lethargic. No appetite. Didn't even want to drink water. He was one sick pup.
When I called the Vet, the first thing she asked was if there had been anything I had fed him that was different. Yes, I said. I gave him some chicken jerky. Milo's Kitchen, I added, so she would know I was giving my dog The Best.
Oh, no, she said. Milo's Kitchen chicken jerky is made in China. There are lots of problems with chicken jerky made in China. The FDA is looking into it.
She told me to give him some rice - only rice - and some plain, nonfat yogurt, plenty of water and nothing else. Just watch him closely and bring him in if his symptoms get worse.
It's taken three days but, thanks be to God, Theo has completely recovered. I have been sick with worry and concern. And, guilt. I mean, I fed it to him. He got sick because of something I did.
Well, not me, but because I trusted a name brand. Got suckered into the "home-style" marketing ploy. Yeah, well, I'm smart enough to know that "home-style" still means "made in a factory". I thought "home" meant, here. In the USA. Where the FDA watches over quality control.
I did some research and discovered that, indeed, the FDA has, in fact, issued a "Preliminary Animal Health Notification".
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to caution consumers of a potential association between the development of illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky products also described as chicken tenders, strips or treats. FDA continues to receive complaints of dogs experiencing illness that their owners or veterinarians associate with consumption of chicken jerky products. The chicken jerky products are imported to the U.S. from China. FDA issued a cautionary warning to consumers in September 2007.2007! Why didn't I know this? How could I have been so careless? With Mr. Wonderful, for God's sake?!! The FDA report continues:
Australian news organizations report the University of Sydney is also investigating an association between illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky in Australia. At least one firm in Australia has recalled their chicken jerky product and the recall notification stated the chicken jerky product was manufactured in China.China. You know. The place where lots of recalls on food, autos, drugs, toys and other products are now notorious.
Please note: This is not a slam on China. This is a slam on companies who continue to do business with China without insisting that they meet standards in this country - especially when the tests are inconclusive but the anecdotal evidence is an overwhelming indicator that something is terribly wrong.
Putting profits over pets is just wrong - in any place in the world. Honest to Pete, this is enough to make me join an organization like PETA.
So, I went to the market and spoke with a lovely gentleman named Charlie at the Service Desk. I had the opened package of Milo's chicken jerky with me. I told him that I didn't want reimbursement. That I took full responsibility for my purchase. I told him what had happened and only ask that the manager consider removing the product from the store shelves. I didn't want any one else to make the same mistake I had made and cause another pet to become ill.
Charlie listened carefully and assured me that he would discuss the problem with the manager, but couldn't promise me that anything would happen as a result. I said I understood. I told him that I was simply making a request. I gave him the package of Milo's chicken jerky along with a print out of the FDA warning, thanked him, and started to leave.
He said, Wait, I'll give you your money back. Oh, I said, you don't need to do that. Yes I do, he said quietly as he scanned the package and gave me my money back.
I came home and then wrote a very polite note to the folks at Del Monte, citing the FDA warning and asking them to please stop procuring chicken jerky from China.
I got a note in reply from them yesterday.
THAT'S when I got angry.
Here's what it says, in part:
To date, the FDA, American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA) and several animal health diagnostic laboratories in the U.S. have not been able to identify any definitive cause or connection between the illness and treats. The FDA also reports that extensive testing of chicken jerky treats has been conducted, but no contaminant has been found.No definitive cause or connection. No contaminant has been found.
Move along. Nothing to see here. Move along.
You can bet that if this had happened to a small child, there would be outrage expressed and instant action. But, hey, it's a dog. Only a dog. And, the evidence is not conclusive. Except, that the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming.
Here's what really pulled my last, poor, tired nerve:
In their notice, the FDA advises consumers that chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be fed occasionally in small quantities. On Milo's Kitchen products, we've placed feeding guidelines, based on your dog’s weight, for each product on the package, and advise against exceeding these amounts.See, it's MY fault. I'm apparently not giving my dog a "balanced diet". I didn't read the "feeding guidelines" and "exceeded the amounts".
Except, in my letter, I specifically noted that I had given one quarter of the treat, twice in one day - well BELOW the "feeding guidelines" on the back of their damn package.
Hell's fury, meet that of a woman scorned.
The bad news is that apparently Del Monte is going to continue to put profits before pets and get their chicken jerky from China.
The good news is that, when I visited my local market yesterday, all the Milo's chicken jerky products were off the shelf. I checked all the packages of all the different brands of jerky and treats that were still on the shelf. None of them said "Made in China". All of them said, "Made in USA".
I swung by the Service Desk and saw Charlie. He immediately grinned when he saw me. Thank you, I said. No problem, he said.
My vet has said that she now has a sign up in her office that warns people not to feed their pets anything that says "Made in China". It also asks people to boycott ALL Milo's Kitchen products in particular and Del Monte products in general until they stop procuring their chicken jerky from China.
She also said that she was working with the Veterinarian's Association to bring the boycott to a national level.
So, I'm appealing to you, dear blog friends, to help me in this.
First of all, please do learn from my mistake. Do not feed your beloved pet anything made in China. Especially Milo's Kitchen chicken jerky.
Please join me in boycotting Del Monte products in general and Milo's Kitchen products in particular. Let your grocer know what you're doing. Ask him/her to remove these products from their shelves.
And, of your mercy and kindness, please do call or write Del Monte and ask them to please stop procuring chicken jerky from China.
You can call their toll-free number, 877-228-6493 M-F, 9-5 Eastern Time.
Or, write to them on their website and leave them a message.
Tell them to please put our pets before their profits and stop the procurement of chicken jerky from China.
I thank you. Mr. Theo the Wonderful dog thanks you.
And now, I'm off to get some recipes for making my own chicken and beef jerky. Home-style - for real. Which I will feed to Mr. Theo in small amounts. As a treat. Not as a replacement for his regular balanced diet. Because I am a responsible parent of a wonderful dog.
And - most dangerous of all in the market place - an educated consumer who is also an activist.
I'm also a woman scorned. Don't mess with me. Or my dog.
Those of you who know me understand that you don't need the FDA to warn you how dangerous that might be.