The following is an inside look of investigation into the imported from China jerky treats not previously told. I’ll warn you now, it doesn’t have a good ending.
Mollie Morrissette (PoisonedPets.com) and I have been knee-deep investigating what could be the issue with the Chinese imported jerky treats for quite some time. Back in April 2012, was the beginning to this investigative journey.
Mollie Morrissette is nothing short of amazing. She has the research capacity of a super hero. Mollie self-educated herself on nephrotoxins – substances that cause kidney damage. Her hours of research led her to aristolochic acid, sourced from the plant aristolochia clematitis – a common herb grown in China. Aristholic acid research kept bringing up the name Dr. Grollman, a scientist that had done years of research on the kidney damage of humans in areas of the world the herb grew wild. Dr. Grollman had also developed a DNA marker test to soundly confirm the connection of kidney disease to aristholochic acid. Mollie sent a plea for help to Dr. Grollman; he answered immediately – yes he would gladly help us.
Dr. Grollman instructed us to have someone “isolate DNA” from a kidney donor and ask the veterinarian to do routine histopathology on the kidney. A kidney donor…yes, we had to find a kidney donor.
Mollie and I struggled with this reality. Our hope to find the possible contaminant of the jerky treats meant another dog had to die. How could we ask someone to donate their dog’s kidneys?
Out of the blue, I received an email from Kym Grogan, a pet store owner in Alabama (WholesomeHound.com). She shared with me how sad it was – a pet owner just came in her store whose little 2.5 pound Yorkie was going into kidney failure after consuming the Chinese imported jerky treats.
I explained to Kym the possible link between the aristolochic acid and the jerky treats, and explained what we needed…the dogs kidneys. Kym had the difficult task of asking this pet owner…should the worst happen, could we have the dogs kidneys.
The dog, was Gigi. Her owner Rosalyn Meadows is one amazing person. Rosalyn and I had many conversations, quite a few we were both crying. This pet owner took a huge risk – believed in a total stranger (me) and agreed – should the worst happen, she would donate her dogs kidneys. Gigi lived another week to ten days. Shortly after Gigi’s death, her kidney’s were on their way to Dr. Cathy Alinovi (Indiana).
Dr. Cathy is one of those rare veterinarians that ‘gets it’. She’s also my friend. Dr. Cathy volunteered to extract the DNA from the kidney sample to be sent to Dr. Grollman. Gigi was tiny – 2.5 pounds. Her kidneys were tiny and the task of separating the renal cortex from the kidney tissue proved to be challenging. Dr. Cathy succeeded and the DNA sample was sent to Dr. Grollman for examination.
Dr. Cathy also took care of the histopathology of Gigi’s kidneys. Gigi died at 14 months old. The histopathology came back stating kidney disease for a 14 year old dog; Chronic interstitial nephritis. In other words, Gigi’s kidneys showed disease common to an older dog – not a young dog.
Through all of our hope, tears, and frustration we ultimately confirmed nothing. Dr. Grollman’s DNA analysis of Gigi’s kidneys turned out to be inconclusive to aristolochic acid (we just received this final update).
There’s more to the story…Back in April when Mollie was spending long hours researching possible issues with the jerky treats, she also found a scientist in Australia – Dr. Mike Bunce – that could possibly help us find the contaminant in the jerky treats. Dr. Bunce, just like Dr. Grollman, immediately responded to Mollie’s email and offered his help. Dr. Bunce had developed state of the art DNA testing of food – providing comprehensive evidence of anything animal or vegetable in the food product tested. Our next challenge was to provide Dr. Bunce with several jerky treat samples and samples from bags of treats consumed by pets that had gotten ill or died. Plus we had the concern of getting the treats through customs (Dr. Bunce is in Australia).
Dr. Patrick Mahaney shipped one treat for us. Dr. Patrick had two treats from a client whose pet became ill after consuming the treats. One went to Australia. Several other treats were provided by pet owners Holly McCutcheon, and Terie Vass whose pets died or became ill linked to the jerky treats.
But again, after much hope and frustration Dr. Bunce’s testing found soy, pea and nuts in the jerky treats, but no other animal or vegetable ingredient contaminant. Our investigative trail turned up cold.
I wanted to share our investigation with everyone to show the tremendous network of kind, animal loving people that have been silently working behind the scenes trying to find the answer to why pets are dying from the Chinese jerky treats. Everyone jumped when we asked for their help and volunteered their time/work. So many people played a role in this investigation – people from all across the US and in Australia – and I want to thank each and every one of you. And as well I’d like to thank JoNell Aleccia of NBC News for her constant reporting on the jerky treat issue and Food and Water Watch for hounding the FDA. A special thank you to Rosalyn – Gigi’s mom. I’m so sorry we did not find the resolve for you and Gigi.
Though we did not find our answer, we are not giving up. I want to assure everyone that there are many people – right now as you are reading this – that are going above and beyond to not only try to find the answer to the jerky treat deaths, but are trying together to make all pet foods/treats safer and healthier. We aren’t a government supported agency, we are ‘little dogs’ with determined hearts. You might not see what’s going on or changes happening, but I want to assure you we are actively working together behind the scenes on many issues. There are countless people, collectively determined to make change happen.
And finally, I wanted to share our investigation story with everyone to encourage you to not give up either. Staying determined and staying connected (thank you Internet) is what will make changes happen in the pet food/pet treat industry. Please continue to connect with Mollie and myself. Continue to send us pictures of trucks sitting inside pet food plants, advertising tricks you see in pet food stores, and/or your personal experiences of reporting an issue to a pet food/treat company. You never know what one little piece of information might do. It’s teamwork. And there are none more determined and caring than us pet owners!
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients? Chinese imports? Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 2500 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com
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