Two women, who are preparing to sue a company that sells dog treats, are trying to warn pet owners after their pets died.
Stacy Carlyle, of Hall County, told Channel 2 anchor Sophia Choi that a treat killed her dog, Bella, and nearly killed her twin sister, Bailee.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it,” Carlyle said.
She said her veterinarian found a piece of treat still inside Bella, several days after Bella ate it in September 2019. Carlyle had to put Bella down.
“She was fine, and just like that, she was gone,” Carlyle said.
She is now planning to sue the company along with Jennifer McConnell, who lives in Texas. She had a similar experience in October 2019.
McConnell said her English bulldog, Titus, ate a DreamBone treat, and his legs started to buckle.
“I put my hand – I mean, my hand was basically in his stomach, and (the treat) was lodged,” McConnell said. “To have my dog die in my arms like it did. I don’t want that to happen to anybody.”
The treats are found in several grocery and pet stores. We spotted some at a metro Walmart. They come in a variety of flavors.
The two women say lots of people are buying them and have collected hundreds of similar complaints.
“They should be investigating and doing something to where I’m not getting three emails a week on somebody’s dog dying or getting sick,” McConnell said.
Channel 2 Action News spoke to Dr. Sara Gonzalez, a veterinarian from the University of Georgia, who said the treat could sit in a dog’s stomach, or worse, get stuck in its intestines.
“The farther down it moves, we probably have less chances of seeing vomiting, while still possible, and would be more likely to see things like abdominal pain, not wanting to eat,” Gonzalez said.
The same treat came under fire in 2016 for similar complaints.
Choi obtained a copy of a lawsuit filed by two women in California. In it, the lawsuit states the product contains “a large amount of indigestible ingredient.”
It points out “sorbitol” as the third listed ingredient and that “sorbitol is indigestible, and is widely characterized and classified, including by the FDA, as an indigestible sugar alcohol.”
But the suit was dismissed after the parties settled out of court.
The products remained on the shelves with a slight change. Instead of saying more than 99% digestible, it now says highly digestible.
But sorbitol remains as the third ingredient in many DreamBone varieties.
“I mean, it’s hard; you can’t pull it off. And they said in order for anybody, a dog or human, this has got to be able to chew off,” McConnell said.
Spectrum Brands now owns the company that puts out DreamBone treats. It sent Choi a statement, saying:
“The health and safety of all dogs who enjoy our DreamBone products is our highest priority. We believe there is no merit to these allegations and we stand behind the quality and safety of our DreamBone products.”
“You shouldn’t give your dog a dog treat, and the dog dies,” McConnell said.
The Food and Drug Administration regulates dog treats and puts out warnings and recalls for pet foods. We are still trying to get the number of complaints filed with the FDA related to the dog treats.
The FDA sent a statement, saying:
“Before taking action regarding a product, FDA must fully investigate complaints submitted to the agency – performing tests, inspections, and interviews before we have enough information to verify whether there is a public safety concern.”
Gonzalez said pet owners also need to take some responsibility when giving out treats.
“Make sure that they are chewing it responsibly and not just swallowing it whole,” Gonzalez said.
As for Carlyle and McConnell, Spectrum Brands offered them a settlement, but they’re determined to take this case to court.
“It’s not about money, but it’s to let the public be aware,” McConnell said.
“You know, you’re just trying to make them happy, and the next thing you know, something you did took their life,” Carlyle said.
The women said their attorneys fired them, saying they saw no benefit of going to the media with this story.
The women came to Channel 2 Action News, and there was no pressure put on them to do this story.
They said they wanted to get the word out about the treats now to save dogs and pet owners some heartache.
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