Hartz wants me to “cease and desist”

I’m a veterinarian and a pet health writer. I write a weekly column for the Miami Herald. Last month I penned one on feline safety when using flea products intended for use on dogs. My aim was to caution cat owners on the issues related to toxicity when inappropriate chemicals are applied.

Unfortunately, I mentioned Hartz as marketing a product line that is widely implicated in feline toxicity. Hartz didn’t take it too well. They’ve sent the Herald a “cease and desist” letter in which they ask for an apology and a retraction.

Here’s my response on my daily veterinary blog, Dolittler.com. You tell me if I’ve been fair.

13 Replies to “Hartz wants me to “cease and desist””

  1. Max is an extremely healthy, happy, olympic-level athlete cat….7 years old. We applied Hartz flea and tick drops. He exhibited trembling, twitching especially in the area where applied. and he looked as if he were 20 years old. I could not believe it was him !!!! I looked on the box which instructed to wash the area if “sensitivity” occurs. “SENSITIVITY”……THIS POOR ANIMAL LOOKED AS IF HE WERE STRUCK BY LIGHTENING !!! I washed him thoroughly, soap and water.. then next day more water. He is OK now. But I am telling you…if a strong cat like Max can be laid low…….any cat can be affected.

  2. Good for you, posting that here. Nothing like a little more publicity, especially since they are threatening you simply for telling it like it is.

    You know I don’t always agree with you — but when I do, I do, and I certainly appreciate you speaking out about this. I hope more people become aware of the dangers of these, and other, over the counter remedies.

  3. Thank you for posting this. I was just getting ready to put this on my dogs and on a whim googled. Called my vet he concurred that this is a very dangerous thing to use.

  4. The story from ABC news in Los Angeles posted by Dr. Patty Khuly above. At the end of that report there is a response from Hartz. One of the cases they mention is mine. (supplemental information 2 – Case of Pam Russell). I lost two cats. Hartz never ONCE contacted me directly. The two statements I have read (the one above & a local story) that concern my animals would lead one to believe I had put another product on my cats prior to the Hartz Spot On or that they came into contact with a toxin while outside. Both of which are not true.

    This company is HUGE and has the money to fight ever allegation thrown at them. They will stop at nothing to keep the consumer quiet. In the meantime I lost two cats and was stuck with an $800 vet bill but I have not been quiet that is for sure and I will continue to voice my “opinion” until these products are pulled from shelves.

  5. I work at an animal ER in Florida and we have seen at least 10 toxicicty cases from both Harts/Sergeants and Adams in the past 2 weeks. It is absolutely deplorable that they keep selling this product,advertise in pet lover mags and ultimately harm, and sometimes kill all of these innocent animals. It is not always cat either. Thank God for Dawn dishsoap- but alot of people don’t know to wash it off immediately! There are very few things that would make me happier than hearing that all of these products are being pulled off of the shelves- instead of seeing that section in Wal-Mart grow!

  6. Thank you all for speaking the truth. Hartz Mountain has a deplorable animal safety record over the years and they also have a corporate behavior of deception, intimidation and misleading the public. Their purchase by Sumitomo Chemical of Japan in 2004 did nothing to improve their corporate culture of denial, deception and intimidation. The list of examples is breathtaking: Their “Blockade” product was pulled from the market after one year not only because of an extraordinary number of pet injuries and deaths, but also several human deaths. Hartz reintroduced it later and again experienced an appalling number of animal injuries and deaths. Hartz was cited and fined for not promptly and accurately reporting consumer complaints of adverse incidents to the EPA as they are required to do by federal law. They have been forced to make numerous labeling revisions because of an unacceptable number of complaints and, in 2005, the EPA finally took significant action by issuing a Cancellation Order terminating their cat and kitten flea and tick products forcing Hartz to reformulate those products. They attempt intimidation through legal tactics combined with obfuscation of the facts in dealing with consumer and media awareness, i.e., their legal intimidation with Beyond Pesticides, the Miami Herald, The Center for Public Integrity, Dr. Patty Khuly, NBC, private citizens and others. They have created a website called, “The Truth About Hartz”, which contains false information, some of which they were forced to modify because of media awareness and public embarrassment of their deception regarding the EPA’s Public Advisory of flea and tick products and the manufacturers–which includes Hartz–under scrutiny. This site also contains an “independent study” that was conducted by the former professor of Hartz’s lead veterinarian and manager of Scientific Affairs while she attended college. After graduating and also receiving her PhD. she happened to serve on the board of directors of an organization this professor chaired…she also made significant financial contributions to this organization, “Friends of Animal Sciences”, according to the organizations newsletter. Later Hartz retained this professor to conduct this so-called “independent study”. How many responsible companies feel compelled to run a “truth” campaign to influence public opinion? Hartz has sent false and defamatory information about private citizens to the news media and to large retail companies to obfuscate the truth, personally diminish individuals and promote the “safety and efficacy” of their products. The list goes on, but the real “truth” about Hartz is their documented history of safety problems and their reprehensible behavior as a large corporation. It’s unbelievable they’ve gotten away with it for so long.

  7. My Maltese almost died this week from my giving her a partial dose of Sergeant’s Gold. She had horrendous seizures and spent two nights in intensive care. I did not think she would live, but thankfully she did. I also put it on my lab. She was foaming at the mouth for hours after having it. Thankfully, she did not have any seizures.

    I am a lawyer, and I began researching these products that have pyrethrins (bug killer)in them. I had no idea that these products were not safe because I bought them in the grocery store. I had never heard of pyrethrins. The vet told me the EPA “regulates” these products.

    Apparently, the EPA is investigating this issue now. See the minutes of their May 2009 meeting –>

    I cannot tell you how awful it was to see my sweet little dog having these seizures and to think she was going to die. I think the people on this site know how emotionally painful this was for my family and myself.

    I am trying to find out if there are any ongoing CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS or any lawsuits at all that have been done regarding these products. I am considering filing a class action lawsuit, but having worked on some before, I know it is a huge enterprise and time commitment. I would prefer to join in one that is already ongoing. I am setting up a separate email now if anyone has any information about any lawsuits that are ongoing or have been done or if people want to send me any other helpful information or want to join in a class action as a plaintiff. I will have to create a website and form if I do go forward with one myself. I just got my dog back yesterday so this is very preliminary, but you can email me your contact and other info (like the product you used, dates, type of pet, reactions, interaction with the company) if you want to know if I do end up doing one and also to help me gauge what interest there is out there. Here is the email address: [email protected]

    Please pass this on or re-post. We need to get the word out that these products are not safe. I appreciate this website! I emailed the EPA people who held that meeting and asked them to put out a press release on their ongoing investigation — to alert people now so they can protect their pets. Their email addresses are in the minutes. You might want to ask them to do that too. Thank you!

    Arlaine Rockey
    Attorney at Law

  8. Dear Arlaine,

    Thanks for your post. I will e-mail you and see if we can spend some time together. I have been contacted by a large, well-known law firm in Los Angeles that has been deeply troubled about these products and manufacturers–particularly Hartz, but the others as well–for quite some time. Although the legal avenue has never been my objective (I’ve attempted to resolve my concerns directly with Hartz Mountain outside of legal actions) Hartz recently attempted to intimidate me through their own senior legal counsel. This action by Hartz–which is a behavioral pattern over the years–has had the opposite effect intended.

    Thanks again for your interest and for providing your contact information–I will be in touch.

  9. I am a class action lawyer in the San Francisco area, investigating the toxicity of Hartz flea products and the possibility of filing a class action against the company. Please contact me if you would like to talk about your experise with this issue.

    Thanks very much.

    Jacqueline Mottek
    Positive Legal Group
    [email protected]
    415.302.5371 (cell)

  10. I just resd about the milk replacer being dangerous for kittens, unfortunately too late for 2 kittens I am nursing. The formula made them extremely ill, vomiting, fluidy, and lethargic. One finally came through with a lot of tlc, the other one is still barely hanging on. My question is, how can they get away with this? I know they are a big corporation, like Walmart, who unfortunately sell this poison. Not that they care, they also were selling the poisonous pet food with the melamine from China. We as pet lovers and rescuers have to find a way to have these products removed from shelves, and hold the sellers accountable. Boycott the stores, do a huge letter writing campaign, go all the way to Washington if necessary. Too many innocent animals have died because of the greed and irresponsibility of these charlatans.

  11. We want to help you make Hartz responsible for their actions. Hartz flea powder killed my son’s cat, Shadow. Three days ago she was a happy healthy 7 yo cat & early yesterday evening she was gone! We are devistated. My son thought he was taking care of his cat & now we keep reassuring him it was not his fault.

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