Salisbury dog owner believes dog died from tainted treats
By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY -— When the Sullivans got Charlotte, their brown and white beagle, from a neighbor, she was a pup. The family had already owned a beagle who lived 12 years. They figured Charlotte would be no different, but they were wrong. Teresa Sullivan said she and her family are heartbroken they had to put their beloved pet to sleep a month ago. Charlotte fell ill, Sullivan believes, after consuming tainted snack treats. Sullivan gave her dog Milo's Chicken Jerky Treats, which she purchased in August from Walmart. The treats have been linked, but not confirmed, to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation of pet illnesses associated with the consumption of jerky pet treats. Companies are free to recall items, according to the FDA, but regulations don't allow products be removed based solely on consumer complaints. Since 2007, the FDA has received thousands of complaints, its website said. According to the FDA, investigators found salmonella bacteria in Nature's Deli Chicken Jerky Dog Treats at Kasel Associated Industries of Denver, CO, during a routine sampling inspection. Once the company was notified of the results, it voluntarily recalled and ceased distribution of the product. The sampling and subsequent recall are not related to pet treats from China that have been associated with reported illness in dogs and cats. Sullivan gave Charlotte one pet treat a day for three days. Sullivan only stopped because she believed the treats were too brittle for Charlotte and would lead to lacerations in the dogs intestines. Three or four days after being given the treats, Charlotte began vomiting and drinking lots of water. The six-year-old beagle began urinating often and had loose stools. Sullivan contacted her veterinarian Dr. Bernie Eberle at Rowan Animal Clinic, 2141 Statesville Boulevard, Salisbury. "I was more concerned about the amount of water she was drinking. I thought at first she had a urinary tract infection or was becoming diabetic," Sullivan said. She spoke with her veterinarian, detailing information about what Charlotte had eaten. When Sullivan mentioned the jerky treats, Eberle told her about the treats that had been associated in the FDA investigation. Sullivan told her vet she wasn't aware of the investigation. Charlotte was placed in the intensive care unit with kidney failure, but after a few days Sullivan brought the beagle home. Seven days after Sullivan's first consultation and appointment, Charlotte was put to sleep. Sullivan sent the leftover product to a FDA field office in Charlotte, but to date scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for Charlotte's illness. The jerky dog treats Sullivan bought were made in China and distributed by Del Monte in California. The top brands named in an FDA report with a possible link are: Waggin' Train or Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats or tenders produced by Nestle Purina PetCare Co., and Milo's Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp. "It's horrible. They are your family. You watch out for them and you're looking out for their best interest," Sullivan said. Sullivan said if she had known, she would never have bought the treats. She said it's hard getting over Charlotte's death. "She died from what appears to be an implication from a tainted dog treat that I gave her when I was trying to give her some love," Sullivan said. It cost more than $400 to care for Charlotte in her final days. Sullivan said though it was costly, she doesn't seek reimbursement. She merely wants to warn other pet owners. She filed a consumer complaint with the FDA and continues to await the outcome. Salisbury Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. Tim Steinman urges pet owners to be cautious of the snack treats they give their dogs, but be warned of potential signs of affliction. "If your dog is vomiting and has diarrhea, drinking water excessively, acting sick you need to have the dog checked out," Steinman said. He also said pet owners should purchase items from reputable sources. "There's some question of where the source of these treats are manufactured," he said. Steinman said since there's no definitive answer as to what is making these dogs and cats sick, pet owners should be cautious of the source of the treats. Pet owners should make sure their pet's treats are coming from a "good source," he said. Pet owners should limit the amount of treats they give to dogs, "you want a healthy balanced diet," he said. For more information about the FDA investigation, go to www.fda.gov or call 888-463-6332.