We’d like to step back and reflect on this part of the EPA Public Advisory, published in March 2010:
(EPA Public Advisory published in March 2010, Page 9, Paragraph 5)
“Incidents which were not evaluated: Not all incident reports were included in the evaluations by the EPA. Incidents which were generally not included:
- Incidents with no EPA registration number
- Incidents from other countries
- Efficacy reports
- Incidents which were considered generally ambiguous
- Incidents which also involved use of other pesticides or drugs because effects may have been associated with the other product
- Incidents which involved multiple animals because it was difficult to tell which animal was affected and to what degree
- Multiple reports or contacts with the registrant for the same incident”
Out of the over 44,000 incident reports submitted to the EPA, only 28,319 were deemed suitable for inclusion in the report, meaning more than 1/3 of the incident reports received were screened out, but the part we wish to focus on today is:
“Incidents which involved multiple animals because it was difficult to tell which animal was affected and to what degree”
This means, for every incident where someone treated multiple animals with a flea and tick product and more than one experienced a reaction, including death, the report was thrown out. Likewise, any reports where an individual treated one animal and a different animal became sick from contact with the treated animal were discarded.
The EPA is working on a way to include these reports in the future but, for now, they go unseen.
According to Gallup’s Annual Lifestyle Poll for 2006, 6 in 10 Americans share their home with an animal.
That’s a lot of homes.
Information compiled from the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey (found on this humanesociety.org page) reveals 28% of dog homes are multiple dog homes and 52% of cat homes are multiple cat homes.
Given the information above, we reason that roughly 31% of all American households are shared with multiple animals.
Additionally, according to information obtained from the 2010 US Census, there were 116.7 million occupied homes in America.
When you combine this census data with the above multiple animal figures, you find there are more than 36 million American homes being left out of the equation.
Aside from this information, there is another factor that must be considered when trying to determine just how many animals have been affected by these poisons:
Many incidents never get reported in the first place.
Market research studies suggest consumers fall into three main categories after they have had a negative experience with any purchased product:
- Problem-focused, in which unhappy customers take action and make their feelings known to the offending party.
- Emotion-focused, in which sad, fearful customers engage in self-blame, self-control, denial and the seeking of social support by venting to third parties who can’t help.
- Avoidance, in which the customers, feeling shame and/or guilt about their dissatisfaction, focus on removing themselves from the stressful situation.
The emotion-focused and avoidance categories above really speak to us when thinking of victims of negligent flea treatments.
It’s all too common for victims of these products to feel guilty, ashamed for having put a dangerous product on their companion animals without first researching the product. These feelings are further amplified by the shameful manner in which unscrupulous manufacturers inflate the “misuse” argument, as we’ve pointed out many times (1, 2)
While it’s beneficial to public awareness for people to submit their story to websites such as HartzVictims.org, this should not be considered a replacement for a formal report with the proper authorities.
Manufacturers of these products are required by federal law to report all adverse events to the EPA. By making your experience known, you allow more of the equation to be revealed.
If you have experienced a problem with a flea or tick product, please report the incident.
You are guilty of nothing more than trying to care for members of your family.