It turns out, the New York Department of Agriculture pulled a Dogswell treat from store shelves in January 2013 – but didn’t test it until July 6, 2013.  And, either I misunderstood the Dogswell representative, or some of their statement to me was less than complete.  Here’s the latest information…

The Dogswell jerky treat withdrawal was announced late Friday July 26, 2013.  On Monday, phone calls were made to Dogswell and to the New York Department of Agriculture who found illegal drug residues in the Dogswell treats (and in Waggin Train, Milo’s Kitchen, and Hartz jerky treats in January 2013).  Tuesday I get to speak to both parties and learn that the illegal antibiotic sulfaclozine was found in the Dogswell treats.

Dogswell’s Brad Armistead told me something very concerning.  When I asked how the treat could have been found to contain an illegal antibiotic in July – when their press release states they had been testing for illegal drugs since January, the conversation went like this (to the best of my recollection)…

Me:  Your press release states that Dogswell started testing your jerky treats in January – if that’s correct, then why didn’t you find the illegal drugs as NY Department of Agriculture did (in July)?

Brad:  The New York Department of Agriculture tested our treat back in January.  The product was already on store shelves – we started testing in January but that was new imports.

Me:  The New York Department of Agriculture tested your treat in January?  Then why is the withdrawal just happening now?

Brad:  They tested the treat in January, but they didn’t notify us until July 22.

Me:  What?  They tested your treats in January but they didn’t notify you until July 22 – six months later?

Brad:  Yes.

Me:  Did they send you a letter stating this?  Can I have a copy of that letter?

Brad:  I’m hesitant on giving you the letter. (I got the impression – at the time – he was concerned it would be inappropriate regulatory wise to give me a copy of the letter).  But I can share that they the date they notified us is July 22.

Me:  This is really bad.  I will get back in touch with NY Department of Agriculture.

And I sent the NY Department of Agriculture the following questions.  Below are their responses…(received late in the day Wednesday July 31, 2013)…

Dogswell told me NY Dept of Ag tested their treats in January – yet only notified the company on 7/22/13 – six months later.  Is this correct?  When did NY Dept of Ag test Dogswell jerky treats?

“The samples were collected in January.  They were then put into our testing queue and tested in the order they were received – standard practice as the laboratory analyzes over 20,000 food and beverage samples each year.  In addition, testing for this particular sample is done on a single instrument that is heavily relied upon.  Sample testing was initiated on June 7 and involved a process called “extraction”. The sample extracts were run on the instrument (LC/MS/MS) on July 6.”

What is NY Dept of Ag protocol in reporting an illegal substance – adulterated product?

“In keeping with established protocols, the presence of the antibiotic in the Dogswell Chicken Jerky treats was classified as a Class 2 recall.  Upon classification of a Class 2 recall we forwarded the report to the appropriate staff to contact the company and initiate a recall.”

Was FDA notified of your test results?  If so, when was FDA notified?

“It is our policy to contact FDA of Class 2 recalls upon completion of the recall (we send them copies of our completed recall packets), however, since in this case Dogswell issued a press release, FDA was informed by that press release (press releases are not required for Class 2 recalls, Dogswell did so voluntarily).”

So…this is different than what Dogswell stated to me.  Dogswell stated their treats were tested in January – NY Department of Agriculture stated the treats were pulled from shelves in January but not tested until July.  Another call would need to be made to Dogswell.  (Note – I received the response from NY Dept of Ag around 6/6:30 in the evening – my plans were to call them the next day.)

And at 10 PM that night my phone rings.  It says Dogswell on caller ID.  It’s Brad Armistead.

Brad:  Hi Susan, I just want to clarify something.  The New York Department of Agriculture pulled a sample of our treats from store shelves in January, but they didn’t test them until July.

(I already knew this – but Brad didn’t know I knew.)

Me:  Brad, that’s not what you told me yesterday.  You told me the treat was tested in January.  I was so upset about that I even asked you about it several times.

Brad:  Well, that’s why I wanted to call and clarify.

Me:  Couple of things Brad.  One, it’s 10 o’clock at night here.  You know I’m located in Florida.  Two, I don’t feel you were completely honest with me.  It feels like I was misled.  I represent consumers and I can tell you for certain, consumers are sick of being misled.  We need companies to be completely transparent.  I heard from NY Department of Agriculture, and I know they pulled your treat from store shelves in January, but didn’t test it until July 6.  Transparency Brad – that’s all we are asking for.

Brad:  I apologize for calling so late.  I just wanted to clarify things.

Me.  Ok, thanks for calling.

It could be that Dogswell’s Brad Armistead meant to explain things better – it could be he had been talking to many different media people and just neglected to share the whole story with me.  Or it could be this was a bad mistake (trying to divert the attention to the NY Dept of Ag instead of Dogswell).  Only Brad Armistead knows for certain which it was.

But the problems still remain…

  • In January of 2013, the New York Department of Agriculture tested numerous imported from China jerky treats and found them to contain illegal drug residues.  Without them – many more dogs would be dying and suffering kidney failure today.
  • In January of 2013, the New York Department of Agriculture pulled another jerky treat imported from China from stores shelves (Dogswell), but somehow it did not get tested for illegal drug residues until six months later.
  • An excessive amount of scientific evidence that these illegal sulfa drugs was the cause of the Fanconi like symptoms of the dogs that died and suffered kidney failure was sent to FDA (numerous individuals) and to every State Department of Agriculture.  Yet to date (six months later) FDA has not acknowledged the science provided them.
  • An excessive amount of import documents was sent to FDA (numerous individuals) and to every State Department of Agriculture linking the Chinese manufacturers of treats that tested positive for illegal drugs to numerous other brands (including Dogswell).  Yet to date (six months later) many other brands of Chinese imported jerky treats remain on store shelves risking the lives of countless dogs.

I just shake my head at how reckless this whole jerky treat situation has been.  It took almost six years of FDA investigation until a contaminant was found (and not found by FDA).  Too many pets have died.  Too many families have been torn to pieces with the death of a pet.  When will it end?


Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Association for Truth in Pet Food
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible

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