I was not only dumbfounded but infuriated when I learned from NBC News a few days ago that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) refused to vote in a resolution that would help discourage pet owners from feeding jerky treat products. They state their reason is that they “Don’t have the scientific proof to say ‘Don’t Do It!’ “ Puhleeeeez! You’ve got to be kidding me! The now 600 or so dogs that have died and the 4,500 illnesses suffered by dogs and cats that have without a doubt been linked to jerky treats since 2007 isn’t enough proof enough for them?
This is not only absolutely ludicrous thinking but it also encourages people to feed these deadly treats to their pets. I can hear the justifications in my head “If the AVMA won’t issue a warning then it must be ok to give these treats to our pets.”
All over the country there are vets and pet owners who have absolutely no doubt that the pets that got sick and/or died from this mysterious illness is a direct result of them having eaten these manufactured jerky treats. They know the jerky treats are at fault, the FDA keeps trying (thank you!) but just hasn’t been able to figure out exactly what in or what about the treats is causing the illnesses and deaths. Finding out the what and the why could take many more years and they may never have a definitive answer other than they know the problem lies with these treats.
AVMA warning or not, I can say without a doubt that we have enough proof and that there is no way that we will ever give these treats to our dogs. The risk of making our dogs sick or the potential of them dying from these treats is simply not worth it to us.
It was just over a year ago today that I wrote about the 2,000 sick dogs and the 500+ dead cats and dogs at that time and just a year later the numbers have risen!
The AVMA is a highly respected organization who’s veterinarian members are supposed to care about our pets! In my book they get a big fat F in the caring department. Because the AVMA won’t issue a warning the manufacturers are already working on putting the originally recalled (and now supposedly significantly enhanced) product back on the shelves. How can you be sure your enhancements won’t make my dog sick or kill it?
Interesting, isn’t it? Nestle Purina (who makes some of the recalled products) contributed $17,250 to the AVMA in 2012 alone. I’ll bet it wouldn’t take a whole lot of digging or smarts to unearth contributions from other pet treat makers. Is the AVMA selling out the people and the pets that trusted them and need them in order to rake in a few bucks? How many more dogs and cats have to get sick or die before you step in and do your job?
The AVMA has the power to help slow down this killer and instead they look the other way. They may as well hand deliver these treats door to door to every pet owner in America because their refusal to issue a warning is no different than giving their blessing to dispensing them.
There are pet owners and dedicated veterinarians from coast to coast who have seen and lived the devastation these treats can cause and who are trying desperately to get the word out to not feed these to your pets. In one simple statement the AVMA managed to trash those efforts. The best they’ll do is to remind people that these treats aren’t a necessary part of their diet. Now that’s real rocket science.
Are you as disappointed and angry as we are about the AVMA’s refusal to step with a warning? What would you like to see happen to help protect our pets? Are you going to feed store bought jerky treats to your family pet(s)?
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>> Why does the AVMA ignore the numbers and what’s been going on?
600 pet deaths in a population of 150 million domestic cats and dogs is a drop in the ocean. Four Thousandths of a percent of the population impacted is not enough to recommend any action whatsoever. It would be overreacting.
>> How do AVMA veterinary members sleep at night knowing that your refusal to give a simple warning is only going to make it worse?
They have saved millions of pet’s lives through their actions (more than 1%, maybe?). The omission of an action that may save four thousands of a percent certainly cannot be enough to lose sleep over in the face of good of such greater magnitude.
>> How can the AVMA just blow off the evidence and basically give people the go-ahead to feed their pets these killer treats?
I don’t know what evidence you’re referring to, but the numbers you’ve indicated show this is probably not an issue worth spending any time on. Perhaps you could provide links to the actual evidence you’re referring to? The lack of doubt in the case of a series of anecdotes from veterinarians and owners does not a scientific case make.
>> Would the FDA be bothering to test these treats if there were no evidence pointing to the need for testing?
The existence of enough evidence to look into it is a much lower threshold than the evidence required to issue advisories against classes of consumable product. If another 1 hundredth of a percent of the pet population dies while they’re studying it (25 times the already stated rate), it still won’t be more than a drop in the ocean.
>> Would the AVMA reconsider issuing a warning if your own pets became ill or died from these treats?
No. They don’t operate on anecdote, they operate on scientific evidence AS THEY SHOULD. The fact is, people die and there isn’t necessarily anything appropriate to do about it via regulatory authority, as the problem is too small and the cost of action too high. Pets are livestock property, valued much less than people in the eyes of the law and regulation. How much more likely, then, is it that pets will die and there is no action appropriate to take by regulatory authority?
Very likely, says I. I’d be interested to know about any scientific evidence to a problem (not anecdote). And if there isn’t any – as the organization stated – then go ahead and study it. Taking such action does require a case very much more definitive than circumstantial anecdotal opinion regarding a tiny sliver of a population.
I’m going to start by saying that in my mind, you and I will just have to agree to disagree. You come from a different viewpoint on I believe every post on our blog that you’ve responded to. You’re entitled to your opinions as are we and we appreciate your input. Differing minds makes for interesting reading and we thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Pets are livestock property to you, but they are family members and much more to many. Additionally, if you had a farm and your livestock was dying, you would likely be quite concerned and want some kind of action taken from agencies that have the power to do so. You might also be as angry about no action being taken as we are. It may not hurt your heart to have your livestock dying but it would hit your wallet significantly and so no matter what the reason may be, action is needed.
We don’t consider 600 dogs sick and dead to be a small sliver of the population. This is a significant number and by now it may be higher. There is a reason they’re dying and all information points to the treats. I didn’t make this up, it’s been in the news a number of times and I did provide some links — many more can be found by Googling the topic. There is no doubt in my mind and that of scores of others that the treats are at fault. Specific scientific proof could take years during which time hundreds or even thousands of pets could suffer and die needlessly because of a simple lack of warning on the product(s) suspected of being the cause.
The point is that the AVMA is supposed to help and they’re not, they’re ignoring it like it has absolutely no significance whatsoever and that’s inexcusable in our opinion. The vets and others like the FDA involve in trying to determine the exact reason the treats are killing should be enough cause for the AVMA to step in and at least issue a warning which they’re refusing to do. Instead they’re bowing to the money they’re getting from the treat makers. The manufacturers have other ways to make money. They too, should be concerned enough about these deaths to quit distributing the questionable products voluntarily if for no other reason than good faith and caring for the dogs and their families. Nothing but greed is driving them to keep making and selling them.
I find fault with the AVMA and all the manufacturers involved in the illness and deaths of these dogs and cats. Something like this in these numbers should not require exact scientific proof of fault for organizations like the AVMA to step in and at least try to help by warning people. At the very least there should be warning labels on the products, just like there is on packs of cigarettes.