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1,500 Chinese dogs die from eating tainted feed

October 21, 2008 |  2:41 pm

BEIJING — Some 1,500 dogs bred for their raccoon-like fur have died after eating feed tainted with melamine, raising questions about how widespread the industrial chemical is in China’s food chain.

The revelation comes amid a crisis over dairy products tainted with melamine that has caused kidney stones in tens of thousands of Chinese children and has been linked to the deaths of four infants.

The raccoon dogs — a breed native to east Asia whose fur is used to trim coats and other clothing — died of kidney failure after eating the tainted feed, Zhang Wenkui, a veterinary professor at Shenyang Agriculture University, said Monday. "First, we found melamine in the dogs’ feed, and second, I found that 25% of the stones in the dogs’ kidneys were made up of melamine," said Zhang, who performed a necropsy — an animal autopsy — on about a dozen dogs.

Zhang declined to say when the deaths occurred but a report Monday in the Southern Metropolis Daily said they had been over the past two months. In the ongoing tainted milk scandal, which has been linked to the deaths of four babies, melamine was said to be added to watered-down milk to artificially boost nitrogen levels, making products seem higher in protein when tested. Some 54,000 children were also sickened.

The animal deaths were also a reminder of last year’s uproar over a Chinese-made pet food ingredient containing melamine that was linked to the deaths of dozens of dogs and cats in the United States. At the time, China’s product safety authorities revoked the business licenses of questionable firms, announced tougher guidelines and increased inspections.

-- Associated Press

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