An Open Letter to Petsmart

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

PugDear Petsmart

I am writing to you to express my deep disappointment in your company and, in my opinion, it’s clear lack of responsibility and concern for its customers and their pets.

On November 18th, I entered one of your stores with the sole purpose of purchasing some cat food and cat litter for my cat.

As I entered the store, I immediately noticed a colorful display featuring Christmas colors and decorations featuring chicken jerky treats made by Nestle-Purina. The bin containing the treats was huge (approximately 4′ x 4′ x4′) and had large signs posted all over it announcing a sale on the large bags of treats.  It was conveniently located right behind the cash registers where people were bound to see it.

I am guessing that many an unsuspecting dog owner has been waiting in line and seen that conveniently placed large bin of treats and made a last-minute purchase for their pet, thinking it would be a nice “special’ treat to give them. Little did they know that in doing so they could be placing their pet’s life in danger. But, you did know, didn’t you?

I am embarrassed to say that I went ahead and got my cat supplies, instead of leaving immediately, and stood in line at the cash register, continuously looking at that bin of chicken jerky treats with disgust and disappointment.

I was so upset I even mentioned it to the cashier, telling her how disappointed I was that Petsmart was promoting a product that had been linked to so many dog illnesses and deaths. What she told me next was either a bald-faced lie or something she made up on her own. She said that the dogs who had gotten sick had only gotten sick because people were feeding them to their pets as meals and not treats. Seriously? Are you kidding me?

I was furious. I told her that she was wrong and that what she said wasn’t true. She didn’t respond any further, but I left your store absolutely fuming. What the hell???

I was so mad that I then posted this on my Facebook page:

“Wow Petsmart. Is that what you’re telling people now? The dogs that died from Chicken Jerky treats died because the owners were feeding them as meals. Really? Nice that you have them in a big sales display by the registers too. On sale. Ugh!!!!!”

I expected to have some of my dog blogging friends to comment on my post, but imagine my surprise when one of my friends mentioned she had been told the very same thing about a month before by another Petsmart employee in another state!

Kind of a strange coincidence don’t you think Petsmart? It makes me wonder… Are you purposely lying to your customers so they will spend money in your store regardless of the danger these treats pose to their pets? Or, are you selling these treats because you have some sort of contract with their maker that you must fulfill? Neither answer is a very good one for your customers is it?  If they lose their pet, you still make money. If they lose their pet, the company making the treats still makes money too. But, is it worth losing a customer and their money?

Because you just lost me. You may choose to sell these products for the almighty dollar, but you will never see my dollars gracing your store again. You can choose to be honest with your customers and tell them the truth AND stop selling these treats, OR you can choose to put money before the pets you so actively claim to care about, but you can’t do both. I won’t support a company that tells its customers that the only dogs impacted by these treats were the ones who were fed it as “a meal.” You know it’s not true and so do I.

By the way…

That same day, another friend who also happens to be a pet sitter told me about a dog client who almost died after her client fed them to her dog. Luckily, my friend was aware of the dangers of these treats and alerted her client immediately. The dog spent a week in the care of university veterinarians and almost didn’t make it.

A week later, a friend contacted me because both her dogs were ill. They were throwing up, had diarrhea and were lethargic. My first thought was to ask her if she had given them any of these treats. She had. Imagine her horror at discovering the treats could have killed her cherished companions? Fortunately for her, her dogs recovered, but so many have not.

Signed,

Your former customer

For Pet Owners:

Canadian Video Exposes the Dangers of Chinese Chicken Jerky Treats (Dog Food Advisor)

Documents Related to Jerky Treats Investigation Released by FDA (PetSitUSA)

Nestle Purina: Recall Chicken Jerky Treats Made in China (Change.org)

FDA Reports 360 Dogs, 1 Cat Dead After Eating Chicken Jerky Treats (NBCBayArea.com)

Dogs Still Dying of Chinese Made Jerky Treats, Enough is Enough (Steve Dale, ChicagoNow)

FDA warns about US-made chicken jerky pet treats (NBCNews.com)

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  1. December 12, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    I never shop there either Mel. My brother bought Petals and Blossum there as a birthday gift for me (surprise). Apparently the Pets are placed there by a third party rescue society. As it turned out, Petals was pregnant (my brother didn’t know), Pet Smart did not have any way of contacting the Rescue Society, their website was bogus and the woman’s phone number was Out of Service. The Manager at Pet Smart was more than unhelpful…we were entirely on our own..bamboozled. They’re in the biz of making money, end of story.

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 6:29 AM

      They had no way of contacting the rescue???? Wow. I find that sad, disturbing and bizarre. How disappointing and shocking.

  2. December 13, 2012 at 12:39 AM

    I’ve never been much of a PetSmart Shopper. If find their food and treat products to be of poor or questionable quality. Until very recently, they didn’t carry a single kibble I would have fed my pets. The fact that they clearly don’t put pets first makes me all the more committed to spend my dollars with a business can feel good about supporting.

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 6:27 AM

      Good for you Jodi. I have turned to a local business, Chuck and Don’s Pet Food Outlet, more and more, for the very same reasons you mentioned. I buy Nick’s food there because he is 19 and refuses to eat anything but Friskies or Fancy Feast anymore. Now, I will be shopping elsewhere.

  3. December 13, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    I have seen petitions directed at PetSmart to remove these products. They apparently don’t care about the pets. I was in one about a month ago for an adoption event and could not find any treats there that were not made in China. I also will not buy anything there.

    I did find treats made in America in of all places Menards. Although they still carry one the brands known to make pets sick. I don’t understand why these products are still sold.

    I feel so bad for the owners who beloved pets have gotten ill or died from something that should have been pulled from shelved a long time ago.

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 6:25 AM

      I have seen them too Carole. I have also seen them directed at Walmart too. I refuse to buy any treats that are made overseas and make many myself now. Funny enough, I have also found the USA made products in strange places, like Menards. I guess the cheap cost to make these treats in China is worth more than keeping your potential clients alive.

  4. December 13, 2012 at 4:45 AM

    That is why we started ToShea, AND our neighbors who bought the treats that killed their puppy came from PetSmart….place makes me sick!
    WE make our own treats for Penny and she eats the same food we do and we give her the proper vitamins too.
    Penny agrees…Petsmart is bad!…Woof Woof and Woof!
    Alex and Penny

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 6:04 AM

      I remember reading that Alex. It just makes me so sad that we have to protect our pets from companies that claim to care so much for them. I love that you make your own treats (I need to order some!). My dogs get dog food made in MN and The Honest Kitchen. I don’t trust any of these companies who talk about helping pets but poison them on the other end.

  5. December 13, 2012 at 4:56 AM

    Great post! (And your FB comment about this wasn’t in my feed 😦 ) There’s no PetSmart near us. Haven’t been in one in years. The answer is to get these treats recalled so they’re not sold anywhere, but so far the almighty corporate dollars rule.

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 6:01 AM

      Sorry Sue! I agree. The treats do need to be recalled. What outraged me was the cashier telling people essentially “No worries! Only dogs who were given this treat as breakfast and dinner (instead of regular dog food) were impacted. You certainly won’t be one of those people.” It’s the deception that pisses me off.
      Yes. The almighty dollar is all all these parties appear to care about. I haven’t bought Nutro since the last recall and I never will. They won’t get my almighty dollars.

  6. December 13, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    I was in there the other day looking for some made-in-the-USA salmon treats a friend found at Petco that Rita loves to try to bum off of her. Thought they might carry the same brands. An employee came over to see if she could help as I headed toward the treat isle. I told her what I was looking for. Every bag of jerky she handed me, I checked and they were all made in China. I put everyone back and told her “I won’t buy things made in China.” She seemed completely uninterested and just walked off. At least she didn’t try to lie to me like the others I guess – but it’s ridiculous. From your write up, it sounds like they have instructed their employees to lie. Disgusting. I won’t be going there anymore either.

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 10:27 PM

      That is really too bad Jackie. It sounds like they lost a sale because of that. I can’t say that Petsmart did instruct their employees to say what the woman said to me, but it is suspicious that another friend was told the same thing in another Petsmart in another state. Coincidence? Certainly possible, but it made me mad enough that I won’t be going back.

  7. December 13, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    I am incredibly disappointed in Petsmart. I worked there in high school as a pet bather and their number one focus was the customer. I can’t believe they have changed so much that they care more about making sales than they do about pet safety. I still have friends who work as store managers and will be contacting them regarding this chicken jerky matter to see what they have to say about it.

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 10:24 PM

      I hope they haven’t Sam. I really am hoping that this was one clerk giving me some made up information. Let me know what you find out.

  8. December 13, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Good for you Mel!! Sadly I’ve seen these treats by Purina everywhere, even my local grocery store.

    I wish the pet manufacturers would do the right thing and recall them. It is a shame what this world is coming to. 😦

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 10:23 PM

      I wish they would too Jodi. I really wish they cared about our pets as much as we do and demonstrate it in a way that let’s us know we can trust them.

  9. FletchsMom
    December 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    PetSmart used to be my “go to” but after all that Chinese recall stuff and seeing those same “Made in China” labels over and over on so many of their products…I found a small local shop of fish and dog products made exclusively in the USA. high quality dry food, wet food, frozen food, SAFE jerky treats, naturally shed antlers, etc. AND, they accepted some of my doggy accessories on consignment to sell to their clients! If you like in North Dallas, you MUST check out Odyssey Pets at Preston & Campbell. Keep your dogs safe!

  10. December 13, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    PetSmart only recently opened a store in my city and it’s not really in an area I visit very often so I haven’t gone. It’s too bad this is their view as I think PetSmart Charities does great things and is even supporting my favourite local shelter with adoptions and grants. It’s too bad the stores themselves can’t remain up to the level of the charity side of things.

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 10:22 PM

      I agree Kristine. I love the things Petsmart Charities has done, and the studies Petsmart has done that has given us so much information on people’s habits when it comes to their pets. I have even shared two of them on my blog. I wish they would take the high road on this issue. It makes me sad that they don’t.

  11. December 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Given these specifics, I think another online petition would be great. Change.org has sent me a whole bunch of petitions, not sure about other groups but they link the petitions to FB, etc.

  12. December 13, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Hm…makes me think that PetSmart is feeding their employees that propaganda. I was never much of a PetSmart shopper because I find the quality of the food and treats they carry to be low. Plus I like to support the small, local guy. Now I will be even less inclined to shop there though.

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 10:20 PM

      I don’t know if they are feeding them it, but it seems suspicious that two people in two different states heard the same story. I will not be shopping there anymore because they are selling them and because they are making them all the more appealing to people to buy them. Putting them on sale, near the cash registers, is not a marketing mistake.

  13. Hawk aka BrownDog
    December 13, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Hi Y’all!

    Sometimes I’m glad my Human never buys me treats, but bakes them fresh for me.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 10:18 PM

      I’ve been doing that too Hawk. In fact, I asked for a food dehydrator for Christmas so I can make more of them! So glad your mom makes your treats for you.

  14. December 13, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    I too have been very upset at PetsMart for continuing to sell the chicken jerky treats – but I don’t understand why the pet food they sell is being condemned. They sell a tremdous amount of different brands for most everyone’s ‘pocketbook’ considerations. They can’t guarantee that the products they put on their shelves are 100% safe. The food in our own
    grocery stores don’t come with that guarantee either.

    When I told a cashier about the jerky products two years ago, she told me that they weren’t
    made in China and I promptly got a bag and showed her. She was very surprised. But
    I don’t complain to the cashiers any more. They probably need their jobs in this terrible economy and not one single idea they have about products will matter anyway. Their job is to help customers and check them out.

    I guess we’ll never know why PetsMart continues to sell the jerky treats. I think it’s awful but none of us knows what is really going on. There has been no official ban on the treats so
    I guess they are trying to get rid of/sell the stockpile they have in their warehouses.

    I think one of the most important things we, as consumers and pet parents can do, is to
    tell as many people as we can about this product that has taken the lives of beloved family members. That’s what I do. I won’t let anyone I know forget that this product can be
    deadly. I put it on Twitter, Google + and Facebook to mention a few. Let’s keep putting the word out.

    It’s up to us now.

    Merry Christmas
    and Best wishes!
    Deborah, Taylor, Emma and Lily

    • Mel
      December 13, 2012 at 10:17 PM

      Thanks Deb. I agree. Since the FDA can’t recall and the companies selling this stuff won’t pull it voluntarily then it is up to us to not buy it, tell others about it, and make sure those who sell it don’t get our money. I won’t be shopping at Petsmart until they take it off their shelves. Selling it at a discounted price because they may have a stockpile of it is not an excuse for selling it to unsuspecting dog parents.

      Like you, I will keep spreading the word. I wish you and your fur babies a very Merry Christmas. 🙂

  15. Jen
    December 13, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    I’ve actually heard that story a couple of times, that people were feeding the treats as meals instead of treats. I don’t buy it (in more ways than one!) Treats or meals, food shouldn’t cause ILLNESS and DEATH in that manner. I think it’s just a mitigation tactic.

    • Mel
      December 14, 2012 at 6:31 AM

      You have Jen? That is really disappointing to hear. really disappointing.

  16. December 14, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    Rosie (In Loving Memory) http://www.dogster.com/dogs/614878

  17. December 16, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    Incredibly disappointing. 😦

    Thanks for sharing this.

  18. December 18, 2012 at 3:38 AM

    That is disgusting and so sad that many dogs have died from eating treats that are freely available, why is it ok to sell dog treats that are toxic when there are a plethora of laws that protect humans? Completely unethical, will have to see if they’re sold in Australia and make sure I avoid them.

    • Mel
      December 18, 2012 at 7:19 AM

      I wish I knew Sam.

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