CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - While most stores that sell pet food and treats must worry about potentially dangerous products made in China, NoogaPaws in Chattanooga is worry free because the store only sells food that is either locally produced or made in the USA.
Since it was first reported that jerky treats imported from China have killed nearly 600 dogs and left nearly 4,000 sick nationwide, NoogaPaws has seen an increase in phone calls from worried local pet owners about treats that were purchased at other stores.
"We try to be due diligent in making sure we understand what treats they're feeding and doing some research for them on the front end. We've also read and researched articles since the news has come out and so we have a good idea of what we're looking for," said NoogaPaws owner Bob Poore.
The controversy has many pet owners putting more consideration into buying locally produced pet food and treats.
"I think it's just another reason to buy local," said Chattanooga pet owner Amy Yacoubian.
"If you can source it locally or in a smaller radius, you're knowing those ingredients are fresher, they're going through less shipping, less importing and exporting and so you're getting a cleaner product closer to home," Poore said.
NoogaPaws prides itself on selling pet food with no unhealthy fillers or anything less than actual fish, beef, chicken or lamb. All the labels on food and treat bags inside the store say made in the USA.
"You can feel confident that when you come in the store, you're getting a product that's been filtered by us," Poore said.
But that same healthy pet food also comes at a sightly higher price than the imported food at most grocery stores.
"I think it's a really difficult situation because people want things at a cheap price but I think that it's better to pay the extra money knowing that the food quality is better than coming from somewhere that you're not sure what they're putting in the food," said Chattanooga pet owner Erica McCallie.
"You can invest on the front end with good nutritional foods and treats and invest less in vet bills as a result of issues from low quality food," Poore said.
The FDA remains clueless as to what is actually inside the treats causing pets to either get sick or die. One thing they can confirm is that all the products in question are produced in China.
"Presently right now, we're just saying stay away from any products made in China and anything to do with chicken jerky because those things should just be thrown away right now," Poore said.
Experts warn if bag label don't say where the food was produced, that should also raise a red flag.