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They’re back! Waggin’ Train jerky treats are poised to poison pets again

As incredible as it sounds, the infamous Waggin’ Train brand accused of sickening and killing thousands of dogs is back.

Purina just launched a new campaign with three new jerky pet treats, one of which is sourced from  China.

The announcement comes one month after import documents revealed that Nestle Purina had continued to import millions of pounds of pet treats from China despite the discovery of illegal drugs in the treats which led to their complete removal from the market last year.

One year later, after thousands of pets became ill and hundreds died after consuming contaminated treats imported from China, Purina is attempting to convince consumers that this time their treats are safe.

Hedging their bets, this time ’round Purina is cautioning consumers that the treats are “not recommended for puppies or adult dogs under 5 pounds”, yet last year somehow that wasn’t a concern.

And, just in case consumers aren’t convinced, Purina is giving them an alternative:

In 2014, Waggin’ Train is giving consumers a real choice, with chicken jerky dog treats made in China and treats made in the U.S.

So, lets see…consumers can now choose between possibly making their dog sick with contaminated treats from China or treats that are supposedly “made in the U.S.”

Golly, what a stumper.

Purina tries to convince consumers that these new and improved treats are OK because:

New Waggin’ Train Chicken Jerky Tenders are made with real white meat chicken in China, where we now source our chicken exclusively from a single, trusted chicken supplier, which is part of a U.S.-based company.

Oh, whew. What a relief. For a minute there, I thought they said from a company in China owned by the Chinese.

Now, instead of getting their contaminated chicken from just any ol’ chicken supplier in China they’ve narrowed it down to only one.

Can Purina’s vast quantity requirements be met by only one measly poultry processor and not a single poultry farmer in all of China?

And further, do we really care if the supplier in China is owned by a company in the U.S.?

I don’t.

Why should I put my trust in a company that knew pets were being made ill and some were dying all along from treats they imported from China and refused to do anything about it until they were caught by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for illegal drug residue in their treats.

I’m sorry, but what on earth makes them think that consumers should believe a single word on their website?

As it turns out, you probably shouldn’t. Just in case Purina should be held liable for anything said on their website and to make absolutely certain Purina has their ass covered they have this neat little disclaimer on their terms and conditions page:

While we use all reasonable attempts to ensure the accuracy and completeness of information on this website, we are not responsible if the information that we make available on this website is not accurate or complete. Any reliance upon the material on this website shall be at your own risk. You agree that it is your responsibility to monitor any changes to the material and the information contained on this website.

Does the expression “to be forewarned is to be forearmed” spring to mind? It should. You can’t say they didn’t warn you. After all, everything Purina tells you on their website may just be a complete fabrication and to believe anything they say Purina wants you to know you will be doing so at your own risk.

For example, do you believe this to be an accurate statement:

Waggin’ Train has worked hard to strengthen our already strict quality controls throughout the production process, from egg to finished treat.

Oh OK, so let me see…they have strengthened their “already strict quality controls” which couldn’t have been that strict, because they failed to control contaminated poultry from being used to make their treats in China a year ago.

We now source all of our chicken from just one trusted supplier in China. This is important, because sourcing exclusively from a single chicken supplier means greater control over all aspects of the chicken supply, including how the chickens are fed, raised and processed.

Oh please, if they think they have control –  they are kidding themselves. Other than their flimsy reassurances, what evidence can they provide consumers that possibly ever restore confidence in the safety of their products?

How about good old-fashioned lab test results. They rely on them apparently, why shouldn’t the customer?

Did Purina provide access to their ongoing sampling program of their products in China?

No, ‘fraid not.

How about transparency, that’s a buzz word marketers love to use nowadays. Has Purina been fully transparent?

Nope, sorry. Why, just today Purina refused to tell Susan Thixton of Truth About Pet Food the name of their U.S. supplier. You can read her post about it here.

Truth? Truth is always a surefire way to give consumers a boost of confidence!

No, Purina isn’t very good at that thing. They lied to American consumers that their treats could not possibly ever be responsible making pets sick. All they could do to assure consumers they weren’t, was to blame the FDA for their lack of ability to find a reason for illnesses. Absence of proof does not mean it a problem does not exist, it only means someone hasn’t discovered its reason for occurring.

The most shameful thing Purina did was to deny any responsibility and refused to help their consumers with sick and dying dogs, they refused to pay for their veterinary bills, and eventually they pulled every offer of a settlement off the table and denied all claims. Purina left consumers with nothing but broken hearts, a mountain of vet bills and dead pets to bury.

Trust Purina?


If this story wasn’t sickening enough to every single pet parent who lost a beloved furry family member to one of these imported treats, is the following cryptic announcement on Nestle Purina’s Waggin’ Train:

Please check back early February when we plan to share even more real dog excitement

I’m not sure if excited is the term I would use to describe my anticipation of their pending announcement, I would say terror would more accurately describes my feeling; impending doom or dread would be another good description.

So, what’s the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doing about it?

Not a whole heck of allot, if the results of their efforts are anything to measure their performance by.

What we do know is that the FDA made a huge mistake (boo-boo, fib — call it what you like) in telling the public the truth regarding the level of illegal antibiotics actually found by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in the treats, under-reporting the actual amounts discovered.

Heck, maybe the FDA needs one of those handy Terms and Conditions pages on their site exempting them from accuracy as well.

We also know that the FDA and the Center for Veterinary Medicine met with Purina as recently as December, 11, 2013 with Larry Thompson, the senior research scientist at Nestle Purina PetCare. What they spoke about, no one knows.

Meanwhile, veterinarians still search for answers and 100 members of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently filed a formal petition with the AVMA House of Delegates to issue a policy regarding the poisonous pet treats.

And consumers and their beloved pets will probably only be remembered by our government as collateral damage in the race to build trade relations with China.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

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