Class-Action Lawsuit Against Nestle Purina for Pet Deaths

Dog owners in eight states have filed a class-action lawsuit against Nestle Purina and several mega stores after contaminated chicken jerky treats from China sickened or killed their pets.

At least 360 dogs and one cat reportedly have died in the U.S. after eating chicken jerky pet treats made in China.

There are more than 2,200 claims of illness tied to these products, as reported by federal veterinary health officials.

Nestle Purina, the maker of two popular brands of canine treats and several mega stores sell the contaminated jerky treats from China.

Six pet owners from several states are suing Nestle Purina, as well as Wal-Mart, Target and Costco, which are three of the retailers that carry this product. The plaintiffs will join a lawsuit filed in federal court last month by a Connecticut family who lost both of their Boston Terrier pets after they consumed chicken jerky treats.

A Pomeranian’s owner sued both Nestle Purina Petcare and Wal-Mart Stores, alleging that his 9-year-old pet died from eating chicken jerky treats and that Nestle knew this product posed a substantial risk of illness or death. He stated, “A 9-year-old dog dying from eating a dog treat is not ‘what nature intended’”. He said that the packaging of the Nestle Purina Waggin’ Train Yam Good dog treats claim the product as “just wholesome goodness” and “it’s what nature intended.”

Three top brands of chicken jerky treats were among those most recently cited by pet owners and veterinarians in complaints of harm. The brands included Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch, brands produced by Nestle Purina, and Milo’s Kitchen Home-style Dog Treats, produced by the Del Monte Corp.

The expanded lawsuit seeks to represent nearly all pet owners in the U.S. who purchased any dog treat product made or sold by Nestle Purina containing chicken imported from China in the past four years. The dog owners are frustrated that the makers and distributors of the treats failed to recall the products voluntarily, despite three federal warnings since 2007 about the possible safety issues, as well as the nearly 1,000 reports to the FDA of dogs sickened or killed by the products. They also say the companies have violated implied warranties of safety and healthfulness of their products.

Thousands of dog owners are hoping for the recall of the chicken jerky treats and for more FDA efforts to identify the source of the problem. Many pet owners say they’re reminded of the 2007 scare in which melamine-tainted pet food from China sickened and killed thousands of dogs in the U.S., leading to mass recalls and criminal indictments of Chinese and American pet food executives. It should be noted that the problem in 2007 wasn’t detected right away, either.

FDA officials this week issued the first summary of report of pet deaths linked to the jerky treats during the past 18 months, along with the strongest suggestion so far, that owners might want to avoid the product altogether.

The FDA reminds pet owners that jerky pet treats are not necessary for pets to have a fully balanced diet, so eliminating them will not harm pets.

A rep from Nestle Purina confirmed that Waggin’ Train brand products are irradiated. He stated, “The extra precaution is taken to assure pet owners the treats they buy are safe and healthy.”

I’m not sure about the safety of this product if it was linked to 361 deaths of pets and more than 2,000 complaints.  Do you think this product should be recalled? Would you feel comfortable feeding this to your “best friend?”

For more information, contact a Gacovino Lake attorney at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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