US Food and Drug Administration inspectors are being sent to manufacturing facilities in China that make chicken jerky dog treats to investigate a potential link between illnesses and deaths in dogs and the treats, according to MSNBC.

The exact number of inspectors involved in the chicken jerky treat investigation and the plants that will be visited are unknown, and Food and Drug Administration officials declined to comment on the inspections.

The inspections in China come after growing pressure from US pet owners, including Robin Pierre, a co-founder of “Animal Parents Against Pet Treats Made in China," who says she has collected more than 7,000 signatures on a petition urging the Food and Drug Administration to take action.

"While I am happy that the FDA is in China investigating now, it never should have taken this long. Too many of our innocent and voiceless companions suffered horrific deaths...No animal should have ever had to die because of a 'treat'," she said.