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Dog subscription-box service BarkBox has halted shipments of a duck-flavored chew stick after a woman attributed the death of her dog to the treat. Loving Pets, the maker of the sticks, has also stopped distributing the product.
Both companies have said they'll investigate the product while it's removed from circulation, and BarlBox's team of veterinarians is working with the vet of the dog, Sugar, to determine whether the duck chew played a role in her death.
Sugar's owner, a woman named Sarah, wrote on Facebook that her dog died about 24 hours after eating the Duck Lucky Chew Stick that was included in her Super Chewer BarkBox delivery. Sarah said Sugar ate the stick around 9 p.m. Sunday and started vomiting in the early morning hours of Monday. Sugar died at the veterinarian's office that evening.
Sarah said Sugar hadn't eaten anything else out of the ordinary around that time. She urged fellow dog owners to avoid Loving Pets products.
"This is so wrong and I am so angry," she wrote. "She didn't deserve to suffer the way that she did, she had so much more life left to live."
The duck-flavored chews are not available to buy at stores. They were exclusively available through BarkBox, Loving Pets wrote on Facebook. The company added that it will conduct its own quality testing on the chews while it also sends samples to a third-party laboratory.
In its original response last week, Loving Pets called Sugar's story an "unfounded accusation" and said it was the first time it had ever heard "of any issues regarding our products." The company then seemed to offer a different explanation for Sugar's death, mentioning how dogs will sometimes consume things outside their regular diet that are hazardous to their health.
(The initial response inspired backlash, and Loving Pets followed up with a post sharing condolence for Sugar and said, "Any element of our original response that seemed uncaring or disingenuous is a product of the shock that we felt.")
"We are doing everything in our power to understand and, where needed, correct the matter," the company wrote.
BarkBox struck a similar tone Friday, saying it would work on its "urgent investigation with our testing labs, the vendor, our veterinary team, Sarah and her vet" and share any results with the public.
"We'd never send anything we wouldn't share with our own pups, so we're handling the situation with the gravity, urgency, and care that it deserves," Hernan Giraldo, BarkBox's vice president of customer experience operations, said in an email to customers.
Dog owners who use BarkBox and want a replacement for the duck chews can contact its customer service team. Loving Pets added that anyone with concerns can email email@example.com or visit its health and wellness page.