SAN DIEGO – Petco became the first national pet retailer to remove all Chinese-made dog and cat treats from its stores and website on concerns the chicken jerky treats may have killed or sickened thousands of pets since 2007. The company's rival, Petsmart also pledged to remove Chinese-made pet treats from its stores by March.

Petco said in May 2014 that removing Chinese-made pet treats from its inventory has been a multi-year process in which Petco has been working with vendors and suppliers to offer alternatives to treats made in China. Jim Myers, president of the company, said at the time the decision was in the best interest of pets and for Petco's business.

“We know the FDA hasn’t yet identified a direct cause for the reported illnesses, but we decided the uncertainty of the situation outweighs the lack of actual proof,” he said.

Since 2007, FDA has received reports of pet treat-related illnesses involving 3,600 dogs and 10 cats. Approximately 580 of those pets have died. The agency has received an additional 1,800 case reports since Oct. 22, 2013. Despite extensive tests of the products and assistance from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine has failed to pinpoint the exact cause of the illnesses.

John Sturm, vice president of Petco, said the company's pet treats are made in the United States, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and South America.