Flea Spray Kills Pets, Suit Alleges

Please don't kill me
Pet owners allege that Bio Spot and Spot On tick and flea repellent sent their cats and dogs into seizures -- and, in some cases, killed them -- in a class action lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco. In some instances, the owners euthanized their pets after they suffered numerous strokes. 

The aggrieved pet owners sued Walnut Creek-based Central Garden and Pet Company and Phoenix-based Farnam Companies, Inc., manufacturers of the tick and flea repellents applied directly to animals' fur, alleging the companies "know, and have known for many years, that these chemicals will substantially injure and/or kill very significant numbers of dogs and cats."

In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was evaluating the Spot On flea treatments, as did Health Canada after an increase in the cases of adverse reactions in pets. (There's even a website, BioSpotVictims.org, dedicated to pet owners warning each other about the products.)

The over-the-counter repellents are significantly cheaper than products sold through veterinarians, and contain Pyrethrin, a derivative of chrysanthemum, which has "long been known to poison cats," the suit states. "In 2008 alone, there were approximately 44,000 reports of adverse events" from products containing such chemicals, the suit states.

George Yuhas, the San Francisco-based attorney for Central, says "Our reaction is our product performs in accordance with its labeling instructions and the label has been approved by the EPA. We look forward to litigating the claim and being vindicated."

The plaintiffs' tales read like a pet lovers' worst nightmare:

  • Susan Cedeno, from Santa Cruz, put the Bio Spot on her dachshund in 2009. Fifteen minutes later the dog began eating grass and the stuffing from a bed, began vomiting, then suffered tremors for 30 days.

  • William Shelby in Texas put Bio Spot on his healthy pit bull, Waggles, on July 1. A few days later, Waggles' hair began to fall out, and bumps appeared on the dog's back and sides. A week later, the dog began to have seizures and lose her eyesight. By July 28, the dog was having seizures, had become totally blind, and couldn't swallow food. He euthanized the dog on the 29th. 

  • Kyndell Walsh of North Carolina put Bio Spot for Cats on his pet in June, and found the cat dead the next morning with no visible injuries.

  • Kathy Ainsley, of Ohio, rubbed Bio Spot for Cats on her four-year-old tabby, Petey, last month. The cat started having tremors within a day, and within seven days, the tremors turned into seizures. On the eighth day, Ainsley euthanized Petey.    
Central's spokesman, Mark Newberg, responded in a statement Friday: "Adverse reactions to flea and tick products are rare. As pet lovers ourselves, we take any adverse reaction seriously and investigate all of them thoroughly. Through our investigations, we have found that in many cases the reaction may have resulted from a pre-existing medical condition or misapplication of the product."   

The plaintiffs represent a class of all people who bought the companies' products containing the allegedly dangerous compounds. They are suing the companies for violating of numerous consumer laws and seek punitive damages.

H/T   |   Courthouse News

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