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Wake Up America and Smell the Jerky!

Hi everyone. Even though I have been taking a much needed break, my mind is not far from the articles and issues that surround folks and their pets. While writing this next book and doing a tremendous amount of filming this summer, I have been cruising the web and my emails semi-regularly and I have received many questions and requests for my opinion on the China Jerky fiasco that has been brewing for a long time now. Many pet owners attribute sickness and even the heartbreaking death of their beloved pets to the various brands of Chicken, Duck, and Yam Jerky treats. Now, although the companies manufacturing the “Wagon Train,” “Canyon Creek,” “Milo’s Kitchen,” to name a few that have been brought to my attention, reportedly are finding no issues with their suppliers and see no reason to recall what they are determining to be a safe product.

(I ran across a good article at NBC.com about this.)

To answer the many emails I received on this. Butch did not die from eating jerky from any of these companies. I had put him to sleep due to the increasing bad effects from his brain tumor and I write more about this in my forthcoming book. Butch loved this jerky and I had fed it to him sparingly as a nice treat. The only problem I had (and he had) with the jerky is that he would bite too much off at once and choke while trying to swallow too big of a chunk. I remedied this by further drying out the jerky in the oven until it was crunchier for him and he could break it into smaller bits.

Do I think that the jerky caused his tumor? There is a 99% chance that these or any other type of treat did NOT cause his tumor. I always leave 1% possibility for everything because the older I get the more I learn that anything is possible no matter how improbable. The FDA and other officials are citing that the percentages of reported cases are so low (roughly 2200 sicknesses and about 360 dogs and 1 cat have died because of what the owners think came from the Jerky treats out of 15 million pets eating them) that it could be an intermittent thing or some peculiarity with these specific animals. On the My Buddy Butch show I have heard of so many types of allergies and reactions in pets coming from MANY different types of store bought items that I can’t personally rule that out.

 In any case, screw the percentages, if my pet that I love dies because of what I think is a Jerky treat or any other kind of commercial treat or commercial food for that matter, I would be on roof tops screaming to warn other folks about a potential problem. “I love my dog or cat more than anything and I fed it something and it died.” This is devastating to everyone that has lost a pet and trying to determine the cause is often as upsetting as the death itself.

So, coming from someone that has absolutely no allegiance to any pet related companies, let me give you a few tips that I think you will be able to use…today!

1st – If you don’t trust the jerky, and I don’t care what company name is on it, don’t buy the product if it says “MADE IN CHINA” on the package. Jerky treats have not been around all that long for pet consumption. Pets have survived long before Jerky treats showed up on the market and I’m guessing your pet will be just fine if you don’t give them jerky!

2nd –  Buy Jerky products made in the USA from ingredients grown in the USA. Have we already forgotten the big Pet Food recall in 2007 with Melamine laced pet foods made in China that killed many animals that ate it? I have personally stopped buying ANYTHING that says “MADE IN CHINA.”  If there are no USA alternatives I make it myself (including toys) or we did without. With the state of our economy…don’t get me started on that…I am willing to pay a few extra dollars on a product made in the USA. Butch was worth it to me and I personally think enough of my money is being sent to China by our government I don’t have to give it to companies for them to send it there also…but that’s just me.

3rd – The small companies spring up with a good idea and bring a good product to market whether it be food or treats. They gain popularity because they are using good quality ingredients from here in the USA where they know the freshness of the produce and the supplier personally in most cases. Then they are bought up by the larger pet companies who have supply chains around the world and put together ingredients in large scale. They can’t possibly be monitoring everything going on in all of the factories where items are produced in foreign countries. Don’t get me wrong. The large pet companies do a lot of good in research and product development that have improved their products over the years. They have no interest in putting products on the market that kill or sicken pets of any kind and they do what they can to prevent it. Their operations are so immense that unfortunately sometimes things slip through the cracks. I worked for a multibillion dollar worldwide company outside the pet industry for many years so I know how it works.

4th – MAKE YOUR OWN JERKY! Even before Butch was ill I was cooking him foods and making him jerky in my own oven. I bought ingredients in my grocery store once a week. I fed him human grade food along with a good quality pet food. Some things I fed him raw, some things I cooked slightly rare. Jerky can be made from just about anything. Buy yourself a big roast or skinless chicken breast, cut it into thin strips, use any type of a rack on a cookie sheet to catch the grease and put it in the oven at 180 degrees for 4 to 5 hours. The result is Jerky that you KNOW is safe. It will even be dryer and more crunchy so your pet has less of a chance to choke on it.

5th – learn to make some other types of treats. Buy a cheap cut of meat. Shoulder roast or other cut. Ask the butcher at your local grocery store if they have any discounted cuts they need to sell that day. You’ll be surprised at what they have discounted. One time they gave me a NY strip steak for $5.00 they needed to sell that day. I took it home cut it into small cubes (Butch was 25 pounds) sautéed it rare in a little olive oil and I had 4 small ziplock bags full of strip steak treats. BUY THAT IN A PET STORE! I froze 3 of the bags and they lasted almost a month. Few treats a day, they were SAFE, and they were much better for him than commercial treats.

With the price of meat, along with everything else going through the roof do the math. You are paying less making some treats or jerky yourself than you will buying marginal treats laced with chemicals of all kinds in a pet store.

I will be posting more articles on this and other items regarding pets, pet care, pet products and other items that I have opinions on in the near future. As I get closer to a release date for the book and the other filming that has been done I will let everyone know! THere is going to be some sweeping changes to the My Buddy Butch Brand in the coming months and next year so stop back again to check on the progress.

Bye for now,

Jeff Marginean

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