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Nitro woman warns against dog treats made in China

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --  A Nitro woman said her beloved schnauzer nearly died after eating chicken jerky treats from China. Local veterinarians said they're familiar with the treats and have treated several dogs that were sickened by them.

Nelda Mattox said her miniature black schnauzer, Lily, is normally "persnickety" when it comes to what she eats.

"She's a little spoiled," Mattox said. "Sometimes when you try and give her something she just walks off [and] leaves it."

So Mattox was happy when Lily seemed to love Chicken Jerky Tenders made by Waggin' Train, a company with some plants in China that make dog treats. She bought the treats on several grocery trips to the St. Albans Kroger and Lily gobbled up about two a day.

But Mattox said this week that Lily began acting very weak after eating some. The little dog then began having bloody diarrhea and was throwing up, she said.

"She hadn't eaten anything all day that Friday," Mattox said. "My son who lives couple of blocks away said if she wasn't better or eating more he would take her to the vet on Sunday."

But by that Saturday Lily had gotten a lot worse. She had barely moved and was vomiting even more.

"She was almost in shock," Mattox said.

Mattox's son took the dog to Kanawha Valley Animal Emergency Service in Dunbar early Sunday. Veterinarians treated Lily for pancreatitis and gave her several antibiotic shots. She was near death, Mattox said.

That's when the vet called Mattox and blamed her illness on the dog treats.

Mattox said she'd like to warn other pet owners about the treats, which are available in stores nationwide.

"It's a shame because she's a healthy dog," Mattox said. "Now her vet bill ... is $650. I just want to save people the heartbreak and the money."

Dr. Jeffery Patton of Animal Care Associates in Charleston said a handful of dogs have been successfully treated for renal failure associated with the company's products. No deaths have occurred, he said.

He learned more about the treats from a veterinary medicine magazine in May, he said.

According to an article by the Veterinary Information Network, thousands of these cases have been filed with the Food and Drug Administration since 2006.

Common signs of illness, which are usually exhibited within hours or days of eating the treats, is decreased appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and increased urination.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, sent letters to the FDA in April expressing concerns about the reported cases, the magazine reported.

The FDA responded that scientists tested more than 170 samples of chicken jerky products from 2007 to 2011, but all tested negative for drugs, toxins and poisons. The agency cannot say whether the treats are safe or cause illness and death, the magazine reported.

According to Waggin' Train's website, its "factories are under stringent safety and sanitary guidelines and monitored by a dedicated team of quality control inspectors, who are in the plants where the products are being produced."

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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