8/30/2001 9:32 PM
By: Kelly Kyle
Hartz Flea and Tick drops remain under review by the Environmental Protection Agency, but since News 8 Austin brought you this story two months ago, we have received more reports about dogs and cats having reactions to the product.
A local pet owner who complained to Hartz has received a check from the Hartz Mountain Corporation after her cat survived a bad reaction. Hartz said their product is safe, but leaves the question: Why is the company now reimbursing some customers for their veterinarian bills?
When Ileen Thar’s cat, Hogan, began itching from fleas, she thought she was doing the right thing by applying Hartz Advanced Care Flea and Tick Drops. Later that day, she noticed Hogan acting strangely.
“I noticed that Hogan had thrown up and I didn’t know if it was a hair ball, or what, so I kind of cleaned it up and ignored it and then he got on the bed and he was like twitching and had violent tremors and he looked like he was disillusioned … like he was kind of swatting at weird things, and his whole body was shaking,” Thar said.
Thar’s veterinarian told her that Hogan had been poisoned by the drops and they would need to keep him overnight. Several vet bills later, Thar was out more than $300. She decided to write to the Hartz Mountain Corporation and tell them of Hogan’s reaction to their product. A month later a reimbursement check was delivered to Thar in the mail.
“I was happy, but the letter was just like, ‘Sorry about your pet, but we’ve been in business and we know what we’re doing. We’re following our guildelines, and you know, here’s a check,'” said Thar.
Hogan is not the only one who experienced such extreme reactions to Hartz Products. The EPA is currently reviewing more than a thousand separate incident reports concerning four of Hartz pet care products.
In the letter to Thar, Hartz said, “As a gesture of goodwill …” they are enclosing a check to assist in veterinary expenses.
Hartz veterinarian Gwen Fernich said the company reviews each situation on an individual basis. “I don’t think that Hartz is saying that the product caused the cat to have this kind of reaction,” Fernich said through a phone interview. “I think that cats are very, very sensitive animals. There is an investigation that is going on and there’s nothing that has been found that has proven that the product is indeed dangerous and all of the ingredients in the product are safe to use on both dogs and cats.”
Thar said she is not sure she will cash the check because she would have to give up any further legal claims. She did say she will never buy her pet products from anywhere else but her vet. She believes if Hartz products remain on the shelves, they should be relabeled.
“There should be something that says, ‘Possible side effects could be,’ and had I known that, I probably would have put that package right back and that’s probably why they don’t want that on the shelves,” Thar said.
The EPA said they should complete their review into Hartz products by mid-September. They are still going through 4,000 pages of information.