US pet owners take healthier alternative with gourmet pet treats

World Today

Two of the largest pet store chains in the U.S. will pull Chinese-made dog-and-cat treats from their shelves. Petco was the first national pet retailer to take action this week. PetSmart will follow suit in a few months. The ban is boosting the niche market for gourmet pet food. CCTV America’s May Lee reported the story from Los Angeles.

US pet owners take healthier alternative with gourmet pet treats

US pet owners take healthier alternative with gourmet pet treats

Two of the largest pet store chains in the U.S. will pull Chinese-made dog-and-cat treats from their shelves. Petco was the first national pet retailer to take action this week. PetSmart will follow suit in a few months. The ban is boosting the niche market for gourmet pet food. CCTV America's May Lee reported the story from Los Angeles.

Concern about allegedly tainted Chinese dog and cat treats has American pet owners looking for safer alternatives.

“I try to use everything organic for me, especially for my dog because they live with me and they’re the same as me, like human being,” dog owner Zukhra Azhimshovea said

In January, America’s second largest chain, Petco, removed Chinese-made jerky treats from its stores and website out of concern the products are making pets sick. The treats are made from chicken, duck and sweet potatoes.

“As a trusted partner for pet parents, we believe this is the right thing to do, and we’re proud to take this step in the best interest of pets,” Petco CEO Jim Myers said in a written statement.

The largest U.S. pet store chain, PetSmart, said it will stop selling Chinese-made treats in March. This will shut-out many Chinese suppliers from the $22.6 billion U.S. pet food market.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said since 2007 it’s received 4,800 complaints that could be linked to the treats, including 1,000 canine deaths.

After years of testing, the U.S. government has found no definitive link between the Chinese treats and pet illnesses. The perception of a link has fueled demand for gourmet pet food. Dr. Oscar Chavez oversees nutrition for a southern California company that makes dog food that some have said is good enough for humans to eat.

“Our founder, Shawn Buckley, found out what’s in pet food and he vowed never to feed his dogs that quality again,” Chavez said. “He switched them over to some homemade recipes that he had, saw the difference and decided that maybe this would a business.”

There is a bit of sticker shock with freshly made food. For example, if you wanted to feed an 80-pound golden retriever twice a day, the grand total would be $250-300 a month.

“The food is really good, it’s gourmet quality. They love it,” dog owner David Rosario said. “My bank account doesn’t love it as much, but they do so.”

Devotees have said it’s worth it because a healthier dog means fewer expensive visits to the veterinarian, as well as greater peace of mind.

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