Pet Owners Sue Over Jerky Treats Dog Deaths

Dog owners including the Mawaka family, the owners of Toby, a 6-year-old Boston terrier (pictured above), are suing Nestle Purina and several mega-stores after jerky treats from China sickened and killed their beloved pets.

Recent complaints by pet owners and veterinarians implicated three top brands of chicken jerky treats in causing harm and even death to dogs that consumed the treats. The three jerky treats are Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch, both produced by Nestle Purina, and Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp. The Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats were produced and supplied by JOC Great Wall Corp. Ltd. of Nanjing, China.

The original complaint was filed back in April by Dennis Adkins, 57, of Orland Park, Illinois. Adkins believes that his 9-year-old Pomeranian, Cleo, who died in March, was sickened by eating Waggin’ Train “Yam Good” dog jerky treats produced by Nestle Purina Pet Care Co.

The current lawsuit adds to the complaint six pet owners in states from coast to coast who are suing Nestle Purina as well as Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco, which are three big retailers that sell the jerky treats.

Named as a plaintiff in the jerky treat lawsuit is Elizabeth Mawaka, a pastor’s wife from Hartford, Connecticut, who believes her two Boston terriers, Max and Toby, died after eating the suspect chicken jerky treats. Said Philip Mawaka, 69, Elizabeth’s husband:

“Toby was falling over and crying out in pain and we would give him another treat because we thought we were doing something nice for him because he was hurting.”

The other dog owners included in the lawsuit over the jerky treats include the following pet owners from across the country:

Mary Ellis of Ontario, Calif., who claims that the Waggin’ Train jerky treats she bought in February sickened two of her dogs, Buster and Boomer, both 9, and killed Maggie, 12.
Maria Higginbotham, Gig Harbor, Wash., who contends that Chik n’ Biscuit dog treats sickened her two rat terriers, Bandit, 3, and Kali, 8.
Dwayne and Kaiya Holley of Hempstead, Long Island, N.Y., who say that Waggin’ Train Yam Good jerky treats bought from Wal-Mart led to the death from kidney failure of their 5-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Bootsie, in March.
Deborah Cowan, Perryton, Texas, who believes chicken jerky tenders caused kidney damage that sickened her 8-year-old dog, Rowdy.
Cindi Farkas, of Howell, N.J., who says her dog Chanel, 6, was diagnosed with kidney disease after eating one half of a jerky treat each day for three weeks this spring.

The dog owners are frustrated that makers and distributors of the jerky treats have yet to voluntarily recall the suspect products in spite of three federal warnings since 2007 about possible safety issues and nearly 1,000 reports to the FDA of dogs sickened or killed by the jerky treats.

The dog owners also believe that Nestle Purina, Wal-mart, Target, and Costco have violated implied warranties of safety and healthfulness of the jerky treats as well as violated commerce rules governing sale of sound merchandise.

Says Tamara Ward, an FDA spokesperson in an email to MSNBC:

“FDA is working and discussing with industry and retailers how we can mutually collaborate and share data, scientific exchanges, etc. We are committed to solving the problem and Costco is one of several parties interested in determining the root cause of the illnesses.”


Until a resolution is determined, dog owners can follow the example of Rachael Chambers, a California woman who is protesting after her dog died from eating the jerky treats. As Chambers argues:

“What’s killing these dogs is somewhat of a mystery. It really falls on the distributors of these products to do the right thing.”

Del Monte, the makers of one of the jerky treats, released the following statement after being contacted by Central Coast News:

“Milo’s Kitchen considers the safety of pets our highest priority. Pets are family and we are committed to providing safe, healthy and nutritious treats for dogs. Here at Milo’s Kitchen, we are pet parents too and we understand that the information that has been released regarding the FDA warning about chicken jerky made in China is confusing and concerning. To clarify, all of our treats, including our Chicken Jerky variety, are made with nutritious and quality ingredients that meet the standards and specifications of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the Food Drug Administration (FDA). The health and wellness of all animals is very important to us so we have been closely monitoring external testing by the American FDA, the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA) and several animal health diagnostic laboratories, none of which has identified any connection between illness and chicken jerky treats. Additionally, we at Milo’s Kitchen have conducted our own extensive internal testing, all of which has shown our Chicken Jerky to be safe for dogs to enjoy. As is the case with all foods and snacks for dogs, we encourage pet parents to read feeding instructions and to feed with confidence as directed. Each scenario is completely independent and is reviewed on a case by case scenario. Out of respect for our pet owners, we do not share the content of the interaction or the number of interactions.”

However, many dog owners are still wary about the safety of jerky treats. I know that I will not be buying any jerky treats for my beloved pets until the cause of these dog deaths is conclusively determined and the problem sorted out.

Will you be buying jerky treats for your dog anytime in the near future?