Posted: May 22, 2014, 3:30 p.m. EDT
By Clay Jackson
Petco and then PetSmart, two of the U.S.’s biggest pet retailers, announced that they would no longer carry China-made pet treats in any of their retail outlets or online.
San Diego-based Petco expects to phase-out all Chinese-made dog and cat treats by the end of the 2014; Phoenix-based PetSmart expects to do the same by March 2015.
"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.
"Very simply, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the pets we all love and, ultimately, for our business,” Myers added.
By early 2015, customers will no longer be able find China-made pet treats on the shelves of Petco or PetSmart, two of the country’s largest pet retail chains.
Petco’s move affects more than 1,300 stores in the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico, including its Unleashed stores and Petco.com; PetSmart will pull treats from more than 1,300 U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico stores and stop selling them at PetSmart.com.
PetSmart Inc. issued a statement of its own.
"… PetSmart will no longer sell dog and cat treats manufactured in China,” said Erin Gray, PetSmart corporate communications manager.
"This is something we’ve been working toward for some time,” she added, "and believe it’s the right thing to do for pets and our customers.”
Both announcements come on the heels of a Food and Drug Administration update.
The FDA reports it has received more than 4,800 reports of illness in pets that ate chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats, "nearly all of which are imported from China.”
As of May 1, 2014, 5,600 dogs, 24 cats and three people have been sickened and more than 1,000 dogs have died.
Approximately 1,800 of the complaints have come in since the FDA’s last update on Oct. 22, 2013.
Thus far, the FDA has been unable to identify a definitive cause or establish a direct link between illnesses or deaths and China-made treats, and no jerky treats have been recalled.
"We [Petco] know the FDA hasn’t yet identified a direct cause for the reported illnesses,” Myers said, "but we decided the uncertainty of the situation outweighs the lack of actual proof.”
"It has taken some time and careful thought to get to this point,” he added, "but we’re proud to make the change, and we believe our customers will be pleased with it as well.”
"We are not losing any brands, and we’ve been working with our vendors for several years to help them to move their operations to the U.S. or other areas we believe are safe,” said Lisa Stark, a Petco spokesperson.
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