Letter to Dollar Tree

This is a letter I sent earlier today to Mr. Bob Sasser, the CEO of Dollar Tree Stores. Our volunteers around the country surveyed Dollar Tree stores in their areas and reported that most sold Bansect flea & tick collars, for both dogs and cats, made by Sergeant’s. Bansect collars contain propuxor, a known toxic and carcinogenic pesticide.

Feel free to send your own letter to Dollar Tree. I have included links after the body of my email so you can research this on your own.

The letter is as follows:

from Tiny Timmy <t.timmykitty@gmail.com>
to bobsasser@dollartree.com,
GaryPhilbin@dollartree.com,
kevinwampler@dollartree.com,
RobertRudman@dollartree.com,
StephenWhite@dollartree.com

Dear Mr. Sasser,

I wanted to touch base with you regarding your sales of Bansect flea & tick collars in your Dollar Tree Stores across the nation. As you might be aware, the EPA last year released information regarding Spot On pet products used to treat for fleas and ticks on companion animals due to an alarming increase of adverse reactions reported. In 2007 over 27,000 adverse reactions were reported to the EPA. In 2008, that number increased by 53% to over 44,000. The best estimates currently for 2009 from the EPA show over 39,000 incidences reported to the EPA. Most of these incidences are reported by the manufacturers to the EPA, as required by law. Often these reports are incomplete and so were not included in the 2009 release of the EPA’s investigation statistics. Also, the EPA was unable to include a ratio of adverse reactions vs. product sold because manufacturers (or registrants, as they are known to the EPA) concluded that releasing sales numbers would be equal to releasing a trade secret.

Not included in this evaluation by the EPA were other pet products designed to treat for fleas and ticks such as powders, collars, shampoos, foggers and sprays. Attention is now turning to these products, primarily due to the efforts of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). They were incredibly concerned about the use of flea collars on companion animals, particularly those containing propuxor and tetrachlorvinphos in their active ingredients. These are both considered neurotoxins to mammals and known to be carcinogentic. These collars and their active ingredient chemicals pose risk of damaging the brain and nervous system of humans, especially toddlers, as well as the pets that they are used on.

You can read the NRDC press release from April 23, 2009 http://www.nrdc.org/media/2009/090423a.asp

Here is an excerpt:

…tested the fur of dogs and cats wearing flea collars to measure the invisible pesticide residues left on the pets from these collars. This analysis, which was the first study of propoxur residues on pet’s fur, found that propoxur levels are so high in some products that they pose a cancer risk in children that is up to 1,000 times higher than the EPA’s acceptable levels, and up to 500 times higher for adults. The study also showed that after three days, 100 percent of the pets wearing collars containing propoxur and 50 percent of the pets wearing collars with TCVP posed a significant neurological risk to toddlers. Testing also revealed that unsafe levels of pesticide residue remain on a dog’s or cat’s fur two weeks after a collar is put on an animal. Families with multiple pets that wear flea collars have even greater exposure risks.

The NRDC submitted a petition to the EPA demanding the removal of flea collars containing propoxur due to their severe health risks for pets, but especially the risks to toddlers and adult humans. Since winning a lawsuit agianst 18 retailers for carrying these products without a label warning of their carcinogenic properties, the NRDC has stepped up their efforts to remove flea collars containing propoxur from the market due to the potential for extreme harm. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/mrotkinellman/epa_continues_to_lag_in_protec.html

The Bansect flea collars that you sell in your Dollar Tree stores across the nation contain propoxur as an active ingredient. They are not only a danger to pets, but also to the human families, especially children, who live with the pets wearing these collars.

It has recently come to my attention that Sergeant’s, the makers of Bansect flea and tick products, have stated that they do not make any flea and tick products for cats containing a different pesticide – permethrin. Permethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid and is highly toxic to cats. I wish to let you know that this statement is completely untrue by Sergeants. For example, Sergeant’s Gold flea & tick spray for cats contains permethrin, as does, according to the Sergeant’s website, a product called Skip Flea Shampoo. Please see the attached screen shot and info from Drugs.com for these references. I have also included the Drugs.com references for the Bansect collars for both cats and dogs, showing they contain propoxur, the chemical specifically mentioned by the NRDC in their study.

I don’t want you to walk away with this feeling Sergeant’s is the only company who makes these products or that I am picking on Sergeant’s specifically. Most manufacturers continue to sell and market products they know to be harmful instead of looking for safer alternatives already on the market. Pesticides in use for many years often have fallen through the EPA cracks when it comes to review as the system is bogged down with far too much work and far too much ability to postpone or avoid reviews and complete, relevant scientific studies. Most people are not aware that studies submitted by registrants to the EPA for chemicals and pesticides do not need to be peer reviewed. According the the NRDC regarding the findings of the carcinogenic properties of propuxor, including the EPA’s own studies, the products still remain on the market.

Mr. Sasser, I admire what you have built with your company and respect that you are in business to make money. However, I ask that you re-assess whether or not Dollar Tree will continue to carry harmful pet products that kill and injure tens of thousands of cats and dogs each year and put their human owners, especially children, at risk.

I believe that fleas need to be controlled, but perhaps it would be a better business model to carry alternatives such as diatomaceous earth (which you could re-package into smaller one-use packages) or flea traps that are non-toxic. I would be more than happy to share ideas with you if you would like to discuss this further. I feel that the education of pet owners is now at a critical level, and any company that markets alternatives could use this as a marketing advantage to their brand.

Thank you for your time.

Yours,

Claudia Tietze

Screenshot of Sergeant's website showing permethrin to be in Skip Flea Shampoo for cats

Screenshot of Sergeant's website showing permethrin to be in Skip Flea Shampoo for cats

LINKS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH:

  • Dollar Tree Mission Statement “Do the right thing for the right reason” here
  • NRDC Switchboard: EPA Continues to Lag in Protecting Kids & Pets from Toxic Flea Collars by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman found here
  • The NRDC Petition to the EPA for the removal of flea collars containing propuxor here
  • NRDC Simple Steps: Chemical Culprits: Flea Control Chemicals here
  • NRDC Document Library here
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