More than six dogs have died and hundreds have gotten sick after eating Real Ham Bone treats, sold by Walmart and other stores.
After receiving hundreds of complaints from pet parents over the past five years, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has contacted U.S. senators, asking them to order Dynamic Pet Products of Washington, Mo., to stop manufacturing the harmful treats.
A class action lawsuit against the manufacturer was filed last month by Khristie Reed, whose Basset Hound, Fred, died after eating a Real Ham Bone.
David Frick, president of Dynamic Pet Products, has refused interview requests from the media.
“At Dynamic Pet Products, we are taking seriously the concerns people have raised,” the company said in a statement sent to FOX6. “We have millions of customers who want a natural bone for their pets and safely use this product with a high level of satisfaction.”
According to the company website, a Real Ham Bone “is the actual femur bone from a hog that has been seasoned and smoked with hickory wood. This is a natural bone, made in the USA. We adhere to strict quality regulations in our plants.”
Tracy Hardgrove, vice president of the BBB in St. Louis, told KSDK that because the bones are smoked, they are especially brittle and likely to splinter inside a dog’s gastrointestinal tract.
That’s exactly what happened to Dave Marklein’s dog, Gunner, after he ate a Real Ham Bone.
“In the middle of the night he had diarrhea and bloody diarrhea — he was almost dead,” Marklein told KSDK. A veterinarian told him the bone had splintered in Gunner’s stomach, blocking his colon.
A few hours after Lisa Nickerson of Onset, Mass., gave her dog, Nala, a Real Ham Bone, Nala became violently ill and was sick for a week.
“Every day I thought I was going to lose her,” Nickerson told CBS Boston. “I was crying every day. I missed work. It was awful.”
Reed, who filed the class action lawsuit against Dynamic Pet Products after her dog died, also started a Change.org petition urging the company to take Real Ham Bones off the market. The petition currently has more than 14,000 signatures.
Reed also started the Facebook group, “Fight for Fred…Ban products that are unsafe for dogs to consume.”
The morning after Fred ingested part of a Real Ham Bone, he was vomiting, having diarrhea and bleeding from his rectum. He was rushed to an animal hospital and placed in intensive care. Unfortunately, the veterinarian recommended that Fred be euthanized.
“I am never going to forgive myself for buying him that deadly treat,” Reed wrote on Change.org.
No Bone Is Safe for Dogs
On its website, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises pet parents not to give their dogs any bones, and to always supervise your dog with any chew toy, especially one your dog hasn’t had before.
The Real Ham Bone label warns that it’s “to be chewed over several sittings, not eaten…remove bone immediately if splintering occurs or small fragments break off.”
However, it’s difficult to stop most dogs from swallowing the treat, as Ron Witt, whose dog, Panda, became seriously ill after eating it, told FOX6.
He said it was similar to telling a human to “go to your favorite restaurant and only just smell your wonderful dinner — don’t consume that.”
The BBB’s Hardgrove told KSDK, “Some of these dogs have suffered horribly, some have died and they are family members.” She said that since only about 5 percent of people file complaints with the BBB, many other dogs may have been sickened or died after eating Real Ham Bones.
Missouri Senator Clair McCaskill has contacted the FDA to see what action it’s taking regarding the harmful treats.
“I don’t need to be convinced a product killing families pets needs to be looked into,” she told KSDK. “Their mandate is to look at whether a pet product is safe and we’ll hold their feet to the fire.”
Some retailers have removed Real Ham Bones from their shelves. Walmart, however, continues to sell them.
“At Walmart, we are committed to providing our customers and their pets with safe, quality pet treats,” the company wrote in a statement to FOX6. “We are saddened to learn of this report of illness alleged to be associated with this product and we are working with the supplier to promptly investigate it. If you have additional questions, we recommend you contact the supplier directly at 636-266-9814.”
Photos via Fight for Fred… Facebook page