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Pet Owners Say Dogs Died After Eating 'Waggin' Train Jerky Tenders' Treats Made In China

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Heartbroken dog owners in our area and across the country, who claim their dogs have died after eating certain dog treats made in China, are sending a warning to others.

Robin Pierre said her 2-year-old Pug "Bella" died from kidney failure shortly after eating "Waggin' Train Chicken Jerky Tenders," a product made in China and distributed in the U.S. by Nestle Purina.

Pierre said she has trouble holding back tears when she thinks about her Bella,  CBS 2's Rachel Stockman reported.

"She was 2 years old. She was full of life," Pierre said.

Pierre is among hundreds of customers who have complained to the Food and Drug Administration about the treats, while thousands have signed a petition online, Stockman reported.

One woman even posted on the company's Facebook page, "my Maltese dog has only two weeks to live because of kidney failure caused from your dog treats!"

"You can't have so many pups die, and the common denominator be the chicken jerky imported from China," Pierre said.

Since 2007, the FDA has issued three warnings about the chicken jerky products, but has not issued a recall because, so far, scientists have not been able to determine a precise cause for the reported illnesses.

The FDA issued the following statement regarding the dog treats:

 FDA has been testing Chicken Jerky Treats since 2007 as a result of reports of illness in dogs that may be associated with feeding the treats. The FDA is actively investigating the matter and conducting analysis for multiple different chemical and microbiological contaminants. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to caution consumers about a potential association between the development of illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky products. The products-also called chicken tenders, strips, or treats-are imported from China. FDA continues to receive complaints of sick dogs that their owners or veterinarians associate with eating chicken jerky products. 

What is FDA Doing?
FDA, in addition to several veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the United States, is working to find out why these products are associated with illness in dogs. To date, scientists have not been able to determine a precise cause for the reported illnesses. FDA has conducted extensive chemical and microbial testing but has not identified any contaminant. FDA continues to actively investigate the problem. Many of the illnesses reported may be the result of causes other than eating chicken jerky.

Tips for Consumers
Do not substitute chicken jerky products for a balanced diet. The products are intended to be used occasionally and in small quantities. Owners of small dogs must be especially careful to limit the amount of these products.
If you choose to feed your dog chicken jerky products, watch the dog closely. Stop feeding the product if your dog shows any of the following signs, which may occur within hours to days after feeding the product:
- decreased appetite, although some dogs may continue to eat the treats instead of other foods
- decreased activity
- vomiting
- diarrhea, sometimes with blood
- increased water drinking or increased urination
Call your veterinarian if signs are severe or last for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine). Urine tests may indicate Fanconi syndrome (increased glucose). Although most dogs appear to recover, some reports to FDA have involved dogs that have died.
Consumers and veterinarians should report cases of animal illness associated with pet foods or treats to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator3 listed for their area.

The company, on the other hand, insisted that the treats are safe and that they have tests that prove it.

"We have a dedicated team of quality control experts in China-particularly, in the plants -- when Waggin' Train products are being produced," according to Nestle Purina.

"I think they have misled the consumers into thinking they really care about these animals and they don't," Pierre said.

While the FDA continues to test the treats, dog owners like Pierre hope other owners take notice.

If you do feed your dog the treats, the FDA urges you to keep an eye on your pet. If you see signs like vomiting, drowsiness, or lack of appetite, make sure you call your veterinarian.

Do you think the treats should be recalled? Let us know below.

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