11/30/2001 4:15 PM
By: Kelly Kyle
The Environmental Protection Agency continues an investigation into Hartz flea and tick products, while a pet owner has filed a lawsuit against the company.
Austin veterinarian Dr. Christine Duvall has seen some of her patients die from what she believes was a bad reaction to over-the-counter flea and tick drops.
“Over-the-counter flea products have been a serious problem for a couple of years now and I’m surprised at how long it’s taken for things to occur, but now there’s finally a lawsuit happening,” Duvall said. “The EPA is finally getting involved and hopefully very soon there’ll be something done and possibly pull these products off the shelf.”
The Hartz flea and tick drops are one over-the-counter medicine that has caused some pet owners to take their complaints to a court of law. Faruqi & Faruqi, a New York law firm, has taken on the task with a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that one woman’s three cats nearly died after one application of the drops.
“She is very concerned with the other individuals who are out there and essentially wants to get this product off the market,” said Anthony Vozzolo, a lawyer with Faruqi & Faruqi, through a phone interview.
The lawsuit comes two months after the EPA completed a review into thousands of cases of pet illnesses and deaths after use of Hartz flea and tick drops.
The EPA tells News 8 Austin that the review into Hartz flea and tick drops is now an, “enforcement investigation” into whether Hartz Mountain Corporation has violated federal law.
Hartz voluntarily paid some pet owners’ veterinarian bills incurred after using the products in question, but the corporation continues to stand by all of its products.
Dr. Albert Ahn, a veterinarian for Hartz, said the lawsuit is not a concern. “We don’t comment on specific litigation, but in any event we will be defending ourselves vigorously and we feel quite confident that we will prevail,” he said.
Nearly 100 pet owners nationwide have contacted the firm with complaints about the products. Hartz continues to wait for the results of the investigation which the EPA expects will last a few more weeks.