Petco, one of the country’s largest pet retailers, announced on Monday that it has finally pulled all Chinese-made dog and cat treats from its shelves, citing concerns that the foreign made pet foods could be linked to a series of yet unexplained sicknesses and deaths among pet dogs in the United States. The move, the first by a national pet store, comes despite the FDA’s inability to tie the illnesses specifically to Chinese-made pet foods.
In May last year when Petco proudly announced it would “stop carrying China-made dog and cat treats at its more than 1,300 store locations nationwide, including Unleashed by Petco stores and online at Petco.com, by the end of 2014,” no one imagined it would take eight months to do it.
Even though the announcement is reason for some to believe it might signify the beginning of a swift industry-wide precautionary movement away from such imports, I hesitate to describe the movement as swift. In fact, a more cynical person has to doubt the sincerity of their concern when it takes the retailer months to do what can normally be accomplished in a single day.
Despite it taking a coon’s age to pull product off the market, Petco’s rival, anxious not to appear like a total ass, PetSmart also announced on Monday that they too made a similar promise in May last year; PetSmart just is taking a bit longer — they need ten months to complete their plan to take the treats off their shelves by March 2015.
The ban on Chinese imported treats is a welcomed one, especially to the thousands of pet parents whose dogs have become ill, even died, after eating the suspect treats. And, although the dueling pet superstores have set an important precedent for pet product retailers moving forward, as the country’s leading outlets for pet merchandise their effort to immediately stop the sale of the toxic pet treats it has been a case of too little too late.