Report finds EPA failing to do its job amid thousands of Seresto flea and tick collar complaints

By Johnathan Hettinger

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not properly reviewed the safety of a popular flea and tick collar that has been linked to more than 3,000 pet deaths, according to the agency’s top watchdog.

The EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), an independent office in the agency tasked with holding the agency accountable, published a report on Thursday calling on the EPA to make a proper, science-based decision on the Seresto product and improve its processes for making safety determinations for pet products..

The report found that the agency has not conducted or published animal risk assessments as it promised to do, and continues to rely on an inadequate 1998 companion animal safety study.

Seresto pet collars work by releasing two active ingredients, the pesticides flumethrin and imidacloprid. The OIG found that the EPA has failed to properly review those active ingredients, including in a new analysis last year.

At a Congressional hearing in June 2022, pet owner Faye Hemsley, of Pennsylvania reported that her dog, Tigger, began to suffer from neurological issues, including his head drooping and a loss of energy, before dying five days after she first put the Seresto collar on him.

Thomas Maiorino, of New Jersey, also testified at the hearing that his family’s dog, Rooney, suffered neurological issues and eventually a seizure, after wearing Seresto. They eventually decided to put the dog down. Many other pet owners reported neurological issues in their animals, including seizures, as well as pet deaths.

The collars have been the subject of more than 105,354 incident reports, including the 3,000 pet deaths, more than any other EPA regulated product in history, according to the EPA’s incident database. From 2012 through 2022, the EPA received more than 100,000 incident reports related to the collars, including more than 2,500 pet death reports and nearly 900 reports of human pesticide incidents related to the Seresto pet collars.