Petco Animal Supplies Inc. says it has pulled all Chinese-made cat and dog treats from its website and stores nationwide following concerns that the treats had sickened thousands of pets.
Petco said the move makes them the first national pet retailer to yank the treats from shelves.
The San Diego-based company and its rival PetSmart vowed in May to remove treats made in China after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it had received about 4,800 complaints of pet illnesses which may be linked to jerky treats made there.
Phoenix-based PetSmart Inc. will no longer be selling treats manufactured in China by March, said spokeswoman Erin Gray. The move was announced Monday.
"We believe this is the right thing to do," said Jim Myers, Petco's chief executive.
The FDA has been investigating pet illnesses and deaths in animals that ate jerky pet treats since 2007 but has not been able to identify a specific cause for the illnesses.
In a May update on the issue, the FDA said it had received reports of more than 1,000 dog deaths. The majority of complaints involve dogs, but cats also have been affected.
It warned pet owners who feed their dogs jerky treats to keep an eye out for decreased appetite and activity, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. The majority of complaints involve chicken jerky as well as duck and sweet potato treats.
John Sturm, Petco's vice president of pet nutrition and merchandising, said that Chinese-made jerky treats remained popular prior to the voluntary ban, representing $30 million in sales.
FOR THE RECORD
Jan. 6, 12:13 p.m.: An earlier version of this article misspelled the Sturm's last name as Strum.
He said the company expects to make up those sales as it expands its selection of treats from smaller vendors in the United States, New Zealand, Australia and South America.
"For us to make this decision, we had to take down a $30-million business and rebuild it from scratch," he said. "It is definitely a case of making a lemonade out of lemons."