Woman Says Wal-Mart's Tainted Pet Treats Killed Her DogAug 29, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP
Melamine-tainted pet treats sold at Wal-Mart might have been responsible for the death of an Ohio woman’s Yorkshire Terrier. Now, Dolores Cole is blaming slow action by the retailer for the illness that killed her beloved pet.
Wal-Mart announced last week that Chinese-made Chicken Jerky Strips from the Import Pingyang Pet Product Co and Chicken Jerky made by Shanghai Bestro Trading were both tainted with melamine. Wal-Mart had removed the contaminated pet treats from stores on July 26 following complaints from customers who said the food had made their dogs sick. But the company waited to warn consumers about the dangerous dog treats until test results confirmed the melamine contamination. Cole told a reporter from the Ohio television station WKYC that Wal-Mart’s delay might have cost her dog its life. The 5-year-old Yorkshire Terrier developed sudden kidney failure after eating the Bestro Chicken Jerky Treats, and died soon after. Though there is no way to confirm that the melamine in the treats were to blame for the dog's sudden illness, such symptoms have been connected to other melamine-tainted pet foods.
In an attempt to save the animal’s life, Cole said her pet was subjected to a surgical procedure that cost more than $1,200. Cole told the TV station that she thought Wal-Mart should cover her vet bills, but so far the company has only offered to reimburse her $6.97 for the tainted treats. Cole also said that the loss of her Yorkie has hit her extremely hard, as the pet had provided comfort following the recent death of her daughter.
Wal-Mart announced last week that anyone who purchased either brand of the dog treats should return them to the store for a refund. All of the products bear the UPC code 0087784900006. The Wal-Mart incident is similar to a recall last March that involved 150 brands of melamine-laced pet food. The chemical, a byproduct of pesticides, was found in wheat gluten used in the food. At least 14,000 animals became ill and 16 died in the US as a result of the poisonous pet food.
Though melamine is banned from food products in the US, use of the chemical in animal feeds is common in China. In fact, many animal feed producers in China advertise for the chemical over the internet. They mix a powdered form of melamine into the feed to inflate the product’s protein levels. Following the March recalls, China banned the use of melamine in products made for export.
Since the March pet food recall, many other Chinese-made products have come under scrutiny. This year, scores of Chinese-made products including tires, lead-painted toys and toothpaste have been recalled for dangerous defects.