Deadly Flea Collar

On Friday, May 28th, I put a new “2 in 1 Flea and Tick Collar” from Hartz on my precious 7 yr old yellow 12 lb cat. This is a much loved family pet and has grown up with my 3 children since he was just 6 weeks old. He was acting hyper Friday night and slipped out the backdoor which he could open himself. Although he was an indoor/outdoor cat, he almost always slept in the house at night, usually with one of the children. He did not come back in and we searched for him many times Friday evening and Saturday. He was found 2/10 of a mile away on sunday due to the fact that he wore a tag. This was further than his usual play area. I was overjoyed to get him back but within a few hours realized that he was definitely not right. He started having spells where he would crouch, have a low pitched cry, ears and face would twitch and then he would start to drool copious amounts of saliva. I suddenly realized it might be the collar and took it off. I then took him to the Emergency Vet. They treated him for toxin exposure with IV fluids, activated charcoal instilled in his stomach and did blood and urine studies which were normal. After anesthesia to do the above, they thought he was improved but by the next day, he was back to having frequent spells again. By now it was Memorial Day. They attempted to contact a neurologist at a nearby vet school but they thought it sounded like a toxin too and said to continue the supportive treatment. Later in the day he had a fullblown seizure and started getting IV Valium for control of those. They contacted the National Poison Control for Animals Hotline at my request to ask about any specific treatment for Tetrachlorvinphos exposure, which was the organophosphate pesticide in the collar. They claimed that it had a low toxicity rating and supposedly, the signs they mentioned were not the ones my cat was having. Because it was a Hartz product that was being questioned, there would be no charge for the consult to the hotline due to a policy of Hartz to pay for all such inquiries. I immediately told them that I didn’t know how I felt about that. The following morning, I had to transport him to the regular vet because the emergency vet is only open when the the regular vets are closed. My vet also tried to contact the neurologist and also gave my cat a small dose of atropine without any effect. Atropine is an antidote for cholinesterase inhibitors such as this substance. By the end of the day, my cat was resting quietly with few signs of twitching or drooling but had had a fever as high as 107 (101.5 being normal for a cat). This was felt to be neuro related-damaged thermostat in the hypothalamus rather than a sign of infection due to bloodwork being normal. He was also thought to be blind at this point. My vet had witnessed at least one case of reversible blindness from a toxin so i didn’t give up. This blindness was also due to brain damage rather than eye damage based on the exam that the vet did. I took him back to the emergency vet for the evening where he would be closely observed. He had only a little bit of twitching of his ears that evening, but during the night, he became less responsive and had his 3rd eyelids up. When I picked him up the next morning to go back to my vet, he was unresponsive and died in the frontseat of my van on the 10 minute trip there. They did try a few resuscitation measures to no avail. Because of the particular symptoms that he had, there was also a bit of concern about Rabies even though his vaccines were up to date. During his initial examination, he had one of those spells while we were restraining him and he bit the technician and a few seconds later, bit me. To be on the safe side, I am having him tested for rabies which is a test that can only be done after death. I am waiting on results and hopefully will have them by Monday because I’m running out of time to start my rabies exposure 6 shots. Rabies in humans is almost always fatal if the shots are not started before symptoms appear. I was told by my health dept that I can safely wait 10 days from the time of exposure. My vet bills which i have not totaled are appx $800. I am having additional autopsy testing done at the vet school. My personal vet suggested this would be the way to go under the circumstances because the school has board certified pathologists-very reputable evidence if they find any. they also are testing the collar and have its original packaging. I’ve emailed the lawyer who handled the class action suit for the flea and tick drops to see if he can give me information on next steps but have not heard back from him. I find tons of information about the flea and tick drops but none about flea collars. Do you have any further information or know of anyone who would be interested in helping me pursue this?
Nancy
p.s. I’d rather find positive rabies testing and take my 6 shots than to know my wonderful friend would still be hear healthy if i hadn’t put that collar on him last week. My emotional pain is great as I know may of you can understand. i’ve heard that Hartz might reimburse my expenses if i file a complaint and sign a waiver not to pursue legal action. I don’t know if that is true but it is not what i want. I want all Hartz products off the market because the suffering to our animals and us is so great.

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