June 30, 2003
Consumer Relations Department
The Hartz Mountain Corporation
400 Plaza Drive
Secaucus, NJ 07094
To Whom It May Concern:
On Tuesday June 24th, 2003 I purchased Hartz Advanced Care Brand Once-A-Month Flea & Tick Drops from a local Target store in my area. I have two cats at home, both 12 years of age, whom I have had since they were old enough to be separated from their mother. I applied the drops to both of my cats that evening. Two days later, on Thursday evening, June 26th, 2003, one of my cats, Gwenevere had a seizure. At the time I didn’t realize it was a seizure she was having – I just thought for some reason she urinated on my bed (which is extremely out of character for her) as well as on herself. I now realize, in retrospect, that it is uncharacteristic for cats to urinate on themselves at all.
The following day, Friday June 27, 2003, I went to work and when I returned home I noticed that there were three different urine spots on three separate pieces of my furniture. I wasn’t sure which cat had done this until I saw Gwenevere. I immediately knew something was wrong with her. Her tongue was sticking out of her mouth at an odd angle, she was drooling blood and her tail was wet…proving once again that she had urinated on herself – which points to a lack of urine control as cats are very clean animals and usually do not get urine on themselves when they urinate voluntarily. I immediately called my Vet, and was advised that they were about to close so they directed me to an Emergency Animal Hospital. I took Gwenevere to the Animal Emergency Centre and they were immediately able to tell me that the reason Gwenevere’s tongue was at an odd angle was because it was impaled on one of her Canine teeth. During her seizures she had bitten down on her tongue and one time in particular she was unable to dislodge it from her tooth. Upon further examination the vet saw several lacerations on the top and bottom of her tongue. At this point, we were only assuming she had been having seizures, as I had not yet witnessed her having one.
Upon arriving at the Animal Emergency Centre, one of the first questions I was asked was if I had used any over-the-counter flea products on Gwenevere. I immediately told them that I had used Hartz Advanced Care Brand Once-A-Month Flea & Tick Drops. They seemed to suspect that a problem might be related to using a product such as this.
After examining Gwenevere, Dr. Morgan Cavanaugh, V.M.D. at the Animal Emergency Centre gave Gwenevere a shot of antibiotics for her tongue, did a mild blood work-up and gave her a small bath to remove the Hartz product still on her fur, I left with my cat, after paying $167.00 for that visit.
In the early morning hours of Saturday June 28, 2003, Gwenevere had three more seizures. The first one was mild, the second was a bit worse. While seizing the second time, she fell off my bed, onto my night table and onto the floor, pulling my CD Alarm clock on top of her (I only mention it’s a CD Alarm Clock to give you an idea of the weight of this clock.) I still had not witnessed that this was indeed a seizure as the light had been off when she had the seizure. During each seizure, Gwenevere bites her tongue and urinates uncontrollably; I did notice the urination – but having never witnessed a seizure in my life – was not equipped to determine that she was having a seizure. The final seizure of the morning was the most severe. I was lying in bed, trying to keep her comfortable, and she starting convulsing again. This time, I went to pick her up, and her mouth unintentionally found my left wrist and clamped on with all of her teeth. I used my right hand to try to unclench her mouth from my left wrist all the while she was convulsing and making the most awful meowing/howling noises. I was unable to stop her from biting my wrist until the seizure was over. When it was done, her tongue was again sticking out at an odd angle, this time I knew that her tongue was probably once again impaled on her tongue – so I lifted it up until she again got control and pulled it back inside her mouth. I then noticed that my left wrist was chewed and punctured, as was my right thumb from trying to dislodge my wrist from her mouth. That night was very traumatic for both and Gwenevere and myself.
The next morning – I called my personal Veterinarian, Dr. Basilious, V.M.D. at Bastet Cat Hospital and made an appointment for Gwenevere. I was prepared to have Gwenevere put to sleep because I couldn’t bear to watch her suffer anymore and her seizures seemed uncontrollable and unpredictable. Upon my arrival, Dr. Basilious immediately asked me if I had used any over-the-counter flea products and I repeated to him what I had told the Vet at the Animal Emergency Centre when asked the same question, that I had used Hartz Advanced Care Brand Once-A-Month Flea & Tick Drops three days earlier. Dr Basilious stated that he had seen other cats put in grave jeopardy from this product before. In fact, the previous cat that had come in after being treated with your product was near death and took a week of hospitalization to get better. He told me that he thought he could save Gwenevere if I followed his instructions. I cannot afford to do neurological testing, extensive x-rays and blood work and expensive treatment. So, he offered me another solution. He suggested I put Gwenevere on Valium for a week, to keep the seizures at bay, wash her with a mild Shampoo that I bought from him, and then just rinse her as many times as I could to try and get the toxicity from your product out of her system. He suggested I repeat the rinsing a couple of times during the week. He also gave Gwenevere another shot of antibiotics for her tongue injuries. He then saw my wrist, which was by this time swollen, and STRONGLY suggested that I go immediately to an emergency room to get myself checked out and get on some antibiotics – as cat bites can be very dangerous.
When I returned home from the Vet on Saturday, I immediately did as Dr. Basilious had instructed me and gave Gwenevere a Valium. I was instructed to give her two a day – one in the morning and one in the evening – and one after a seizure. About ten minutes after returning home – Gwenevere was sitting on my bed grooming herself and I saw her fall off the bed and hit the floor – hard – I ran to her, and she was convulsing and urinating again. I just prayed the Valium would hurry and kick in as my heart was breaking with having to watch the torment my pet was enduring.
Gwenevere stayed very sedated the rest of Saturday and Sunday June 29, 2003. She barely ate and when she did make it to the litter box she was usually so tired she’d end up just lying there instead of climbing out. Having to leave her alone on Monday June 30, 2003, to go to work was difficult, and my boss was kind enough to let me take a half a day off work to go home and check on her. When I got home on Monday – I saw that Gwenevere had had another seizure. I also noticed that she was losing lots of fur on her lower back (pictures enclosed.) I once again rinsed her as my vet had instructed me to. When she was dry – I noticed that she had lost quite a bit of fur and upon closer inspection – I noticed what appeared to be a burn mark on her skin.
I cannot articulate the trauma of watching an animal I love and have loved for 12 years go through the pain and fear she went through as a result of your product. Aside from that – trying to save my cat’s life and repair the damage your product caused has been very costly. In two days, I have spent $304.12 (itemized below,) however I am sure this figure will continue to rise, as I need more treatment for my bite and Gwenevere needs at least one more check-up with her Vet (assuming she does improve as both me and Dr. Basilious are hoping.)
The cost of your product was $9.99 (receipt attached.) The other expenses I have incurred as a result of using your product are (receipts for all attached):
6/27/03 – Animal Emergency Centre, Dr. Morgan Cavanaugh: $167.00
6/28/03 – Bastet Cat Hospital: $ 96.32
6/28/03 – Toluca Village Pharmacy (eye ointment, Valium
for Gwenevere): $ 28.80
6/28/03 – Toluca Village Pharmacy (anti-biotic for myself for
cat bite): $ 12.00
Your product gave no indication that it could be toxic to cats. I have now spent over $300 on vet bills trying to save my cat. Upon seeing Gwenevere, both Veterinary Doctors I took her to (my regular Vet and the Emergency Vet) immediately began asking me if I used an over the counter flea repellent – apparently they have seen this many times when people have used your product, and similar products. I also told a neighbor last night what happened and she related that when she used your product it immediately started burning her cats skin – to the point where he was running around her apartment in pain. I say this only to relay that I know, as you probably do as well, that Gwenevere’s reaction is not an isolated incident. I feel very let down and disappointed in the damage your product has caused to my cat and myself. I can’t understand how this could happen – I used the product as intended, followed instructions, and the result is absolutely horrifying. I trusted the Hartz name and felt that animal safety would have been put first over profit. It never occurred to me that I could be endangering my cat by using a product you sell specifically for cats.
I am not in a financial position to spend the kind of money I spent over the past couple of days. I did not buy your product to save money – but out of trust and convenience. If my cat does not improve by the end of the week, unfortunately, I will have to consider Euthanasia. This causes me a lot of distress, witnessing my cat’s health deteriorate before my eyes has been devastating. What is worse is that she was perfectly healthy a week ago, before I used your product on her. If you have a pet of your own – you can sympathize with my pain.
I was told on your Consumer Relations Hotline to include all of my receipts with this letter. Financial reimbursement seems only fair – as you cannot reimburse me for the stress and heartache I’ve gone through this past weekend trying to care for my sick cat.
I anxiously await a response from you regarding this situation. I’m sure Dr. Basilious, who I am ccing on this letter, would be happy to speak with you should you have any further questions regarding Gwenevere and her health.