Office of Inspector General questions EPA over flea collars connected to pet deaths

ATLANTA — The Inspector General’s Office wants to know how the Environmental Protection Agency went about approving a popular brand of pet flea and tick collars.

The collars are still sold in many metro Atlanta stores.

Channel 2 Action News has reported on a mountain of complaints about Seresto flea and tick collars after pets started dying and children began coming down with serious illnesses.

Stacie Prest told Channel 2 investigative reporter Sophia Choi that she still feels guilty about using one of the collars on her border collie named Canelo.

At 3 1/2 years old, Canelo got lymphoma and died. She said even her vet believes the collar made her pet sick.

“I looked at him and I said, ‘What could have caused it at 3-and-a-hal’ And he said, ‘The collar,’” Prest said.

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Some 86,000 people have filed complaints about the Elanco-made Seresto flea and tick collars to the EPA, which approved it.

But so far, the agency has taken no action, as our investigation revealed.

Now the Office of Inspector General is getting involved.

In a memo, it said it is investigating whether “the EPA’s response provides assurance that the collars can still be used without posing unreasonable adverse effects to human health and the environment” and whether “the EPA adhered to pesticide registration requirements in its approval of Seresto pet collars.”

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Scientists say Seresto uses two powerful pesticides that spread through your pet’s hair into their follicles and glands.

Karen McCormack, a Georgia scientist used to work for the EPA.

“99% of the information that EPA uses in their risk assessment comes from industry studies. They conduct the studies, the safety studies for their own pesticide products.”

In a new statement, the EPA said it, “will use incident information to determine whether the continued registration of these pet collars still meets the legally required standard of no unreasonable adverse effects.”

Elanco also sent Choi a new statement saying it, “unequivocally continues to stand behind the safety profile of Seresto as a proven solution to help protect dogs and cats from fleas and ticks. We support all agency review processes.”

Tammy Shugart hopes the EPA bans the collars. She bought hers at a Georgia Walmart.

Weeks later, both her dogs got sick -- Benson died and Mr. Jones lost both his eyes.

“It was heartbreaking,” Shugart said.

Shugart is now using natural options for flea control and so is Stacie Prest. A lot of the vets Choi spoke to recommend that over pesticides, found both in collars and drops, you put on the back of your pet’s neck.

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