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Can Greenies Dog Treats Recover From Death?

A Makeover For Greenies(r) Treats

Months after a series of lawsuits and media attention alleged their treat sometimes sickened or killed dogs, the makers of Greenies(r), the top-seller for dogs in the US, are introducing a new easier-to-chew and digest formula.

S&M NuTech, a Kansas City, MO-based company contends the new formula predates the negative publicity, but admits it hopes to win back timid pet owners.

Dismissing the hazards attributed to the original Greenies(r) as, "perception issues," Kristy Vetter, the consumer care strategy coordinator for S&M NuTec explains, "We think this will give pet owners confidence about what they're giving their dogs."

Earlier in 2006, CNN and newspapers began reporting stories from pet owners asserting that undigested Greenies(r) had caused throat and intestinal blockages that required surgery and were, at times, fatal. In February, CNN estimated that thirteen dogs had died. A class-action suit against S&MN NuTec is currently pending in federal court in Missouri.

Company officials maintain the treats are safe, "when used as directed." They note that the treats are sold in a variety of sizes, and pet owners must be careful to select the appropriate size and be sure that the dogs adequately chew the treats.

Greenies(r) are hard, dark green treats shaped like a bone on one end, and a toothbrush on the other. They are marketed as bad breath and periodontal disease banishers, and a substitute for teeth brushing.

They have been a big hit with consumers, topping sales of 315 million in 2005. This amounts to 20% of the U.S. dog treat market, per the market research firm Euromonitor International. The treats are also sold in at least 50 other countries.

The new version boasts a chewier texture and "break points" designed to assist dogs in gnawing the treats into smaller, easier-to-swallow pieces. The ingredients have also been modified to allow for easier digestion.

Even while under legal and media scrutiny, Mars, Inc. agreed to purchase S&M NuTech in April. The financial terms of the deal went undisclosed. At the time of the sale, the privately-held S&M NuTech had 95 employees, and declined to divulge its revenue. Mars, Inc., privately held and based in McLean, Va., has 39,000 employees and revenue of $18 billion.

Best known as the maker of M&Ms and Snickers, Mars, Inc. is also behind the pet lines marketed as Pedigree and Whiskas. At the time of the sale, S&M NuTech refused comment as to whether the legal woes involving Greenies(r) aided in its decision to sell.

To date, the Mars, Inc. website directory (http://www.mars.com/Mars+Directory/ United+States/Company+Search+Results.htm) does not list Greenies(r) as one of its business units in the US.

The Greenies(r) website (http://www.Greenies.com) boasts testimonials from happy pet owners whose dogs love their treats. Its FAQ section proudly vaunts the chewy texture, changed shape, easy digestibility and nutritional balance of the new-improved Greenies(r).

As to, "Why did you change Greenies(r)?" the company says only, "We are always looking for ways to improve all aspects of our products. This includes dental efficacy, palatability, nutritional efficacy, dog enjoyment and veterinarian and pet owner's confidence."

There is no specific reference to the purported hazards posed to dogs enjoying the treats. The website does, however, note the importance of purchasing the correct size for your dog, and states that the product is not recommended for dogs less than six months old and/or less than five pounds.

Submitted by:

Patty Vale

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