Saugerties couple suspect treat killed dog

Debi Arthur and Steve Smith with their dog Mickey, who did not eat the treats in question (Photo by Will Dendis)


It was supposed to be a Christmas treat for their a pint-sized pooch, but a Saugerties couple, Steve Smith and Debi Arthur, believe that the chicken jerky treats, purchased from a local supermarket, became a death sentence for their beloved Chihuahua, Lacy. What they found out later — the treats were suspected in the illness or death of hundreds of dogs as far back as 2007 — left them stunned, angry and looking for answers.

“I was just shocked, knocked back by the laid-back attitude some of these people have,” said Smith. “These are people’s pets and they’re dying.”


The story begins back in Nov. 2011 when Arthur, 57, bought a package of Milo’s Kitchen chicken jerky treats at ShopRite in the Town of Ulster. The treats were a Christmas gift for Lacey and the couple’s other dog. Smith he gave Lacey, a 10-year-old long-haired Chihuahua, the treat while he watched a football playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 15. Later that evening, Smith said, he found the dog lethargic, unable to stand up and refusing food but with an unquenchable thirst for water. The couple planned to take the stricken animal to the vet first thing in the morning, but by 2 a.m. Lacy was dead. At first, Smith said, he did not connect Lacy’s sudden death to the treat; the unsuspecting couple traveled to Long Island to bury Lacy at the family’s traditional final resting place for pets, their former home on Long Island. While they were there, they gave the remaining treats to Debi’s daughter who fed them to her Lab-mix. Within hours, Smith said, the larger dog also became violently ill.

“We never suspected the treat, until the other dog got so sick,” said Smith. “Then we went online and started looking into it.”

What they found, and the Saugerties Times confirmed, is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued three advisories about potentially contaminated chicken jerky treats since September 2007. But, despite extensive testing at laboratories working with the FDA’s Veterinary Laboratory Response Network, scientists still don’t know what causes the illness or even if the treats are responsible. Smith said that when he called the FDA to report Lacy’s death on a consumer complaint line, the response was nonchalant.

“They said they kind of suspected (that the treats could cause illness),” Smith recalled. “But until they know definitively, they can’t do more than they already have, which is just about nothing.”

There are 10 comments

  1. Maryjane Surico

    So very sorry to hear about your dog Steve and Debi.As a dog lover I cannot believe that a massive recall hasn’t been issued. I bet it probably won’t either. What a shame. I only buy products that are produced and made in the USA for my 2 pomeranians. Buffalo Blue and California Natural are 2 of them. If you need more products go to Dr. Fox vet on the web he has a list of excellent foods for our pets. Again my heart goes out to you for your loss.

  2. Robin Pierre

    Anyone who has been affected by these treats please contact me at I have a petition on care 2 to try and ban these treats with over 2600 signatures from around the world along with a Facebook Group called “Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made In China” with over 500 members. We are making a difference Ohio’s Senator has been able to get it to the Senate Floor last week urging the FDA for swift action and we have been able to get some media attention mostly from Ohio. NY is not yet on board as far as companion animals are concerened as most of all the other states. Please join in our crusade help stop the needless killing of our dogs due to poisoning from these “treats”. My baby was a 2 year old healthy dog up until the night of 11/13/11, she passed on 11/21/11 due to the Waggin Train Chicken Jerky Treats from Nestle.

  3. Mark Hoffstatter

    I sent the following to WagginTrainBrand in January 2007:

    I have two large dogs about 70 lbs each. I wanted to try a treat that was easier on their teeth than the regular rawhide treats.
    I gave them both a Waggin Train Chicken Tender after their dinner. Several hours later, I noticed one of my pets was having trouble breathing. She looked like she could have had something wrong with her airway, as she would not bend her neck down. She was not choking, but was definitely in some distress.
    Before I could get her to an animal hospital, she had stopped breathing (she was still concious when her breathing stopped, and she was in obvious panic) and died within minutes, despite respiration attempts.
    I did a sweep of her mouth and throat, and did not find anything, but I wanted you to know in case there is a problem with this product.
    Both dogs ate them readily, but I am afraid to give any to my other dog.

  4. TriPom Chews

    If you’re looking for a SAFE, REAL ‘American Made’ chicken jerky for dogs or cats, we started making our own Chicken Jerky for our 3 dogs after we ran across the FDA warning of 2008 about Chinese chicken treats making dogs sick or killing them. It turned into a cottage “Mom & Pop” business and we now sell our TriPom Chews online and in 20 stores in the New England area. Our products are the only homemade, handmade, ‘Maine Made’, ‘American Made’ Chicken Jerky produced from whole, restaurant-quality chicken breasts containing NO Additives and NO Preservatives. Our 3 Pomeranians (our babies!) taste test every batch for quality.

  5. steve smith

    Saugerties thank you for your support and kind words. We are planning a huge protest rally on April-1st, (Remember Lacy Day, We won’t get fooled again). If you would like to come out and support us or would like more details please contact us. ( Thank you.

  6. J Sims

    Keep getting the word out, it’s our only defense against these companies who won’t voluntarily recall their poisonous dog treat products. I just lost our Kuroi to the same fate after feeding her a Chik’n Biscut from Waggin’ Train dog treats. Made with chicken jerky from China. I didn’t know about the FDA warning til afterwards. It was too late for her.

  7. Ken

    An FDA document leaked this week from a confidential source within the US Congress details the chronological timeline of tests that the agency has performed on chicken jerky treats since 2007 – tests which many pet owners say have ignored some of the most potentially lethal substances possibly responsible for the rash of pet illnesses and deaths.

    Read the report at:

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