Tiny Timmy – A Champion of Change

In September 2009 my partner and I rescued a cat and discovered not only was he abused terribly in his previous home, but he was in the middle of a life-threatening reaction to over-the-counter flea and tick products. [For his story in his own words, you can read his post, Rescue Day First Anniversary].

We wanted to give him a name that would show he could overcome anything and thrive. Despite being told he would likely not make it 48 hours by our vet, we named him Tiny Timmy after the little crippled boy in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. If you recall, at the end of the story, Tiny Timmy throws his crutches away and walks.

Our Timmy is a loving, fun, full of life fur person. He wobbles when he walks, has trouble with small muscle control, has small seizures and tremors. Through the use of supplements and his new acupuncture treatments, he is doing so much better and continues to progress in his Healing Journey. He is now a Spokeskitty against these harmful and dangerous products that have injured and killed tens of thousands of cats and dogs each year.

That’s why this post is a little ironic. Blog Paws came up with a wonderful program and idea. Ask bloggers to post about “less adoptable” pets this week. For every post, the sponsors pay money into a fund that will be distributed to deserving rescues, including one of our favorites, Blind Cat Rescue. What a great idea! What possibly could be ironic about this?

One of the sponsors of this drive is Hartz. Hartz makes over-the-counter flea and tick products, like the ones that harmed Timmy and caused him neurological damage that has impacted his life and caused him to fall into the category of a “less adoptable” pet. Do not be fooled. Hartz is not the same company that it was 100 years ago when it began to become a “trusted brand” with our pets and their health.

Here’s little bit of Hartz History: Max Stern founded Hartz in 1926. His family operated the company for more than 75 years until it was sold to JW Childs, an investment firm in 2000. In 2004, JW Childs then sold Hartz to the Sumitomo Corporation for about $364 million. Since 2006, Hartz has been plagued by recalls of treats, toys and flea & tick products. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required Hartz to cancel the production of phenothrin-containing flea and tick products for cats after receiving thousands of reports of pet injury and death. As of March 31, 2006, the sale and distribution of Hartz’s phenothrin-containing flea and tick products for cats has been terminated. However, EPA’s product cancellation order did not apply to Hartz flea and tick products for dogs, and Hartz continues to use phenothrin in a concentration of 85.7% in many of its flea and tick products for dogs.

On their website, Hartz states they hold their products to the highest standards of the EPA, who regulates these products. What they don’t tell you is that these products don’t really have high standards, particularly for active ingredients that have been on the market for agriculture and other uses for decades. In fact, some pesticides cancelled years ago, such as organophosphates (think Nazi nerve gas and Agent Orange), are still found in pet products, including “new” products by Hartz.

They feel so strongly about their commitment to your pets that they even trademarked this little quip: “Vet quality protection without the vet prices™”

Most pet owners believe they are being responsible pet owners by treating their companion animals with flea and tick products. They trust the Hartz brand because they grew up with it, as their parent’s did. But companies just like Hartz employ labs like Professional Laboratory and Research Services Inc. facility in Corapeake, NC. One week after an undercover PETA investigation with graphic footage of horrible conditions and abuse, PLRS closed their doors. The SPCA of Wake County has taken on and offered for adoption 35 of these animals. PRLS contracted with flea & tick and deworming product manufacturers. The state in which these animals were kept in, including untreated health conditions, psychosis and open wounds could never yield any type of sound science. Apparently workers claimed that if all the animals in a study reacted, it wasn’t a reaction but a fact of the “living conditions”. These manufacturers go to labs just like PRLS because the reports are in their favor and the EPA relies primarily on studies submitted by manufacturers.

If Timmy had stayed where we rescued him from, the following day he would have been abandoned in a forest area near The Bad Place. He was so ill at that time. He could hardly keep his head up, let alone walk. He had chronic diarrhea from being a fed a diet of human junk food like pizza and hot pockets. Because the people at the Bad Place thought it was funny he walked like a “drunken kitty” and would run full blast until he banged into something, they tried to get him to run whenever they needed a good laugh. They pushed him around on the concrete when we went to rescue him, like a broken Tonka Truck, to get him to run. He was far too sick to run, so we snatched him up.

If the people who had him would have cared enough to work with a shelter to get him adopted, likely he would have been given his wings. It would have taken a very very special rescue to see to his needs, be sensitive to what was working and what was not despite what any vet said, and to see him through his first rescue week, where my partner and I stood vigil over him almost 24 hours a day, watching for signs of major seizures.

There is not one day that goes by that Timmy does not bring a smile to our faces, and touch our hearts in some positive way. Although we were not looking for another cat, and originally planned to re-home Timmy, we count our blessings for the day he came into our lives because he has made it so much richer.

Other than taking in strays, dumps or other rescues, my entire life of owning cats (a LOOOONG time) I have never given a home to a specially-abled cat. It wasn’t a conscious effort, but most of the cats I have owned found me, not the other way around. Since Timmy has come into our lives, we have met blind cats, cats with two or three legs like Henry JM, CH kitties, cats with seizures, cats who have burns from fire and cats who suffered severe disfiguring from abuse or accident. I have met equally amazing dogs like Myron Wood who is blind, epileptic and environmentally allergic and others like Rainbow Diamond who had her back broken in a puppy mill, which made her the “perfect breeder”.

There seems to be no shortage of Specially-Abled cats and dogs. One thing they all seem to have in common is that their owners truly love them and each triumph is a celebration, yet they are often euthanized or passed over for adoption. Each of these animals has also done something very special by sharing their stories. They have created a community of humans and other animals.

If you want to be part of the change, contact the Wake County SPCA and give these rescued lab cats and dogs a chance to know what it’s really like to be loved, fed well, treated well and feel secure.

[This image courtesy of Hartz Victims]

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  • Beautifully written. My hat is off to Tiny Timmy and his peeps. You are all incredible. Indeed, Champions of Change.

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  • Ninja & Family<span class="comment-author-location"> from United States</span>


    Wonderful article. We are definitely re-posting to help Timmy spread the word. You’re so incredibly selfless in sharing his story and letting him have a “job” as Spokeskitty to prevent others from injury (or worse) at the hands of OTC flea & tick products.

    We think Tiny Timmy is a very brave boy and a constant source of inspiration. We’re thankful to share his healing journey and encourage others who feel the same to “skip the Starbucks” and add a little to his ChipIn instead.

    BRAVO to Timmy & his peeps!

  • Kittie Danger<span class="comment-author-location"> from Greenville, SC, United States</span>

    I agree w/Bonnie, it is very well written, and easy for all to understand. BooBoo Kittie is doing great! She has had no further seizures or lasting effects from the exposure to the Sergeants product. Although we were unable to locate a bottle anywhere, the company did send me paperwork, etc. to fill out. Thank you for all of your help! Tiny Timmy is in my prayers daily. All animals are remembered in our prayers, as well as the special people who help them and care for them and especially love them.

  • Timmy is an awesome little guy, and you guys are awesome for taking him in. I’m honored to have met you online.

  • Karen Galmiche<span class="comment-author-location"> from Navarre, FL, United States</span>

    Very well said! I wish all the “special” animals were the first to be adopted instead of the last. They give so much and take so little. God Bless all those pet parents of “special” animals and God Bless the animals!

    Karen & Ray Galmiche & our girl Sandy. 🙂

    • Us differently-abled pets is very appreciative. Tho wes dun think der anything wrongs wid us, cuz wes just figure dis is life, wes alsos knoes dat der sumpin very special abouts our owners.

      • Karen Galmiche<span class="comment-author-location"> from Navarre, FL, United States</span>

        Timmy – you have such a wonderful view of life! There is nothing wrong with “differently-abled” or “special” pets. They are the ones that bring such a special joy to our life. Us humans could learn much from them. 🙂

  • Melanie<span class="comment-author-location"> from Martinsburg, WV, United States</span>

    Beautiful. What an example of taking a tragedy and making something positive and shining come out of it. Thank you, for educating the public about these poisons that pose under the guise of being something for the health and well being of our animals. Bright blessings always!

  • Raffi and Sabra<span class="comment-author-location"> from Saint Cloud, MN, United States</span>


    Beautifully done and so breathtaking to read. I am sharing of course-everywhere. Everyone who has a cat or a dog or any animal requiring treatment for fleas and ticks needs to know about this-this history of Hartz and its “ethics”.

    You guys are family to us! We carry you everywhere in our hearts and minds and the message will get out for Timmy and for little Uzi and all the others who were victims of these toxic products.

    A tour de force to be sure.

  • Di<span class="comment-author-location"> from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia</span>

    I found it wonderful and infromative to read about the history of Haartz and to understand why people still think they are reliable when they are not. I love hearing over and over how you found Timmy and saved him and it makes me totally shicked to imagine him lost alone and ill in a forest where he would undoubtably died. Thank God for your Peeps Timmy and thank God for you and the work you are doing togetherXXX

  • Piper Provost<span class="comment-author-location"> from Harleysville, PA, United States</span>

    How very eloquent! I believe He has allowed this to happen to TT so many others will be saved. You both had a choice when faced with this “trial”. You could have just looked the other way or done the best you could for TT. But, you both choose to go beyond what most would do and be an advocate for these animals who have been damaged by chemicals that should never have been put out for our pets. Yes indeed, Hartz and the other companies may be huge & powerful. But, we the people are more powerful! We have the choice to say NOOOO, we will not buy your products! Pass it on.

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  • What a wonderful article. TT is an inspiration with his full of life spirit and I love to hear how he is doing.
    With awareness comes change.

  • hamishdad<span class="comment-author-location"> from Boyertown, PA, United States</span>

    Outstanding article!

    Shame on Hartz (and other companies that make flea and tick products) for attempting to add credibility to their brand through the use of cause-related marketing. If they really cared about the well being of pets, they wouldn’t make products that harm tens of thousands of pets each year, pose significant health risks to toddlers, and poison the environment.

    Also, shame on the EPA for allowing these companies to essentially regulate themselves. These companies are given the responsibility of submitting companion animal safety studies and adverse incident reports to the EPA. Is it any wonder that the companion animal safety studies are worthless, and that most adverse incidents are reported to be mild?

    Thank you, Tiny Timmy, for being an inspiration to us all. For being a “less adoptable” pet, you certainly have brought much joy into this world!

  • Maureen Rothenberg<span class="comment-author-location"> from Valdosta, GA, United States</span>

    I’m blown away daily by the power of Timmy’s message, his big personality, and the perseverance and courage of his peeps. It does seem that Fate brought you all together somehow– the right peeps at just the right time, for the right little cat. It’s a powerful story and an important message for pet owners, potential owners– and Big Pet Pharma (how do they sleep at night?) As Piper says, pass it on.

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