Blockbuster news for pet owners came Tuesday from one of the country's leading pet retailers.
Pet product sales giant Petco has stopped selling pet treats made in China following an outcry from consumers over tainted treats that killed 1,000 dogs and sickened thousands of dogs and cats since 2007.
Petco said it has removed all China-made dog and cat treats at more than 1,300 retail stores nationwide. The chain's main competitor PetSmart says it will do the same within months.
Petco's decision to stop selling China treats was first announced in May 2014 after a flood of reports of deaths and illnesses of pets that had consumed jerky treats from China.
"As a trusted partner for pet parents, we believe this is the right thing to do, and we're proud to take this step in the best interest of pets," said Jim Myers, Petco's chief executive officer. "What we feed our pets matters, and this milestone supports the company's steadfast commitment to putting our customers, partners, animals and the communities we serve first."
Petco said it will now carry U.S.-made treats and import what it described as "safe" treats from other regions of the world, including New Zealand, Australia and South America.
PetSmart - the nation's other top pet retailer - is on schedule to end its sale of China-made treats in March, a spokeswoman said in an email.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) began investigating the issue in 2012 after receiving reports from close to 5,000 pet owners whose dogs or cats had died or became ill after eating chicken and duck-wrapped jerky treats from China.
In a press release issued in May last year the agency said it is still investigating the illnesses and continues to take complaints from consumers.
That was not the first pet food scandal linked to China. In 2007 thousands of pet owners in the U.S. and Canada complained about their pets becoming sick or dead, after eating tainted pet food. An FDA investigation concluded that the food - processed in Canada and sold under an array of popular brand names - contained melamine, a chemical fertiilzer banned in the U.S. but still used in China.