Food and Drug Administration taking action after treats kill pets, make them sick

CLEVELAND - Could the dog treats in your pantry make your dog sick or even kill it? In a 5 On Your Side investigation exactly one year ago, we asked the Food and Drug Administration these questions.

There are still no conclusive answers and since our report first aired last November, nearly 250 more pets have died and another 1,600 have become ill.

Now, federal leaders are asking for extra help from veterinarians and pet owners in solving the mystery.

The puzzling illness is attacking dogs of all ages, breeds and sizes.

Pet owners say the source appears to be chicken, duck and sweet potato treats made in China.

"We're trying to get them off our shelves. That's our goal," said Terry Safranek during our previous investigation. 

She told us she believes the treats killed her dog Sampson. In his memory, she filled store shelves with business cards that warn pet owners of the danger.

She also connected with other pet owners online in hopes the power of social media would lead to action by the manufacturers or the stores.

"You got complaints and no proof and people are running scared," said local veterinarian and Ohio Veterinary Medical Association board member Dr. David Koncal.

He told us last year he felt consumers were scared because their pets got sick or died during a recall of contaminated pet food in 2007.

"The cases are few and far between (and) nobody can pinpoint what might be happening here," Koncal said.

But now, nearly a year later, the FDA is taking notice. In an open letter to U.S. veterinarians, FDA leaders are asking the vets to track and send detailed information about any animals sickened by jerky treats, including results of blood and urine tests.

At the same time the FDA is seeking help from vets, it's also putting out a fact sheet for owners that can be posted at pet supply stores and other sites.

If you have given your pet jerky treats and you notice a decreased appetite, lethargy, vomiting or diarrhea, the FDA recommends you contact your vet right away.   

And remember you can check out the pet food illness fact sheet and complaint form on the FDA website .

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