Local pet shops react to Chinese dog food scare

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Earlier this month, Petco announced that it was pulling all of its Chinese-made dog and cat treats off its shelves after it was discovered that the foreign products might have led to the deaths of thousands of dogs nationwide.

And while customers of Carmel’s newly relocated Petco location are applauding this move, many local shops have been ahead of the curve in this situation.

John Mikesell, owner of Izzy’s Dog Bakery at 816 W. Main St., said he got rid of his Chinese treats more than three years ago. Mikesell points out that a lot of brands say “USA” on the front but on the back it’ll say that the product was manufactured in China and packaged in the United States.

While he has some outside products on his shelves, the biggest sellers at Mikesell’s store are his homemade goodies. The scent of these treats baking can be smelled throughout the shop as you walk in.

Mikesell often jokes that the baked goods are healthy for dogs, but humans could eat them as well. He was serious when he said he had one of the apple-cinnamon muffins with his coffee in the morning.

“There isn’t anything in here that I make that I wouldn’t eat myself,” he said.

Just down the street, Sean Litke has built his business, Canine Cloud Nine, on the idea of selling healthy treats. He started the store in 2012 as a place where people could get their dog groomed and buy some of the nutritious chicken jerky, which Litke makes himself.

Recently, Litke hasn’t spent as much of his time in the store at 110 W. Main St. because treat production has gone through the roof. He sold 3,500 pounds of jerky in 2014, compared to 500 pounds in 2013.

Litke sells his dog treats under his company Cosmo’s Superior Foods and he’s expanded into the “private label” business, which is where major brands will buy products from local companies to sell under their brand’s name. He estimates that his products are in 300 to 400 stories. One of his private label products is ranked 17th on Amazon’s dog treat category, he said.

Litke said it’s important to know where your pet’s food is coming from. He knows it could be easy to buy the cheapest brand of dog food/treats, but it’s not the best decision.

“Diet influences everything,” he said. “If you give a kid a bunch of Mountain Dew before bed, you’d see the outcome. If you have a dog that has aggression problems, that’s just going to be amplified by the garbage food you gave them.”


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