Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Life Without Pesticides in Canada

On vacation in the dog-friendly Provincetown, Massachusetts, we talked with Andree and her three-year-old dog Chanel about life without pesticides in Canada.

The fight against pesticides has been more successful in Canada than in the United States, and Andree's home province of Quebec is a leader in activism.

Quebec not only bans cosmetic use of pesticides ("cosmetic use"refers to chemical use for a greener lawn rather than for fighting diseases), but also strictly regulates sale of pesticides in stores.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pet Owner Pursues Enforcement Against Chemlawn

Robin Olson sought enforcement by the state of Maryland after her dog came into direct contact with herbicides during a application. After the death of her dog, Robin started researching how Moose's symptoms related to the herbicide's ingredients. Here is a fascinating timeline of her tragic experience, research, and fight for justice.

1. "On Oct. 3, 2006, Chemlawn fails to notify me by phone of impending herbicide application, breaks State law.

2. Applicator arrives. Sprays Chlorophenoxy herbicides towards 12 open windows and wide open front door AND my dog Moose in the yard. Right away, applicator admits to me and later to MDA (Maryland Department of Agriculture), that Moose had full contact with freshly sprayed pesticides, BEFORE I had even the knowledge he was on my property. Applicator informs me that Moose will NOT get sick from exposure.

3. Three hours later, Moose, starts presenting signs of being sick. Refuses to eat, is lethargic, vomits.

4. Oct. 5th, 2006, 48 hours after pesticide exposure, dog breaks down into convulsions, unconscious. Take to Vet, Dr. Marcie Engel, ASAP. Vet states authoritatively: “There is no testing or treatment for pesticide exposure”. She tests for Lyme and other dog diseases. Vet agrees that dog is very ill. I thought he was going to die that day.

5. Start giving 10 pills a day to keep alive everyday until death. For Moose, a long, slow painful descent into liver, kidney and neurological failure. Everyday from spray application to death, I state out loud: “Chemlawn did this to Moose”. If he’d survived one year from incident, the cost from PILLS ALONE would have been $4,380.00.

6. October 17th, 2006 – Chemlawn finally told me pesticide they used, after many phone calls to them. I called EPA for first time to report incident, referred to MDA. Mike Maines from Chemlawn called me and accused me of “not putting my dog inside when he was spraying”. Chemlawn possibly audiotaped this conversation.

7. October 19, 2006, My only contact ever with Corporate Chemlawn: A young girl quickly tells me they will not charge me for application and then she hangs up.

8. Met with Phil Davidson, Dec. 5th, 2006 at my house, he took my verbal report. Moose already 50% degraded from original health status. Huge change between November 15 and December 15th, 2006. By Christmas I realized he was going to die from his pesticide injuries.

9. Jan. 16, 2007, Vet recommends Euthanasia for multiple organ failure. We declined.

10. Feb. 24, 2007, Moose dies at home. We take his remains to Dr. Engel for cremation, she refuses to do a Necropsy.

11. After Feb. 24, 2007, I actively start investigating the chemicals. I start collecting hundreds of pages of epidemiological studies. No doubt whatsoever in my mind what caused Moose’s death. The studies and reports corroborate Moose’s CBC*’s perfectly.

12. Feb. 26, 2007, I inform MDA that Moose has died from his pesticide injuries.

13. March 12, 2007 – MDA gives Chemlawn two lame slaps on the wrist with a wet noodle for not calling me and not filling out the application forms properly. I’m incensed at 2 page letter from MDA, regarding inaccurate descriptions of what happened, downgrading the TGC negligence factor.

14. April 19, 2007, I request the working file for my case from Rob Hofstetter. After reviewing file sent to me, I realize my statements had been changed. I call Phil Davidson at MDA. Davidson admits intentionally altering my official statement. I complain to his boss, Rob Hofstetter and leave msg for Chief.

15. May 30th, 2007, Receive email from Dennis Howard, Chief, Pesticide Regulation Section, agreeing to re-open my case. Dennis Howard told me that the MDA does care about the truth and that their job is to be impartial.

16. February 29, 2008. Chemlawn and the applicator were fined by the State of Maryland for, among other things, applying chemicals in a faulty, careless, or negligent manner, and failing to observe all precautions.

Finally, after all of Robin's efforts, Chemlawn was fined by the state of Maryland. You can read more about Moose and Robin on Robin Olson is also featured in our film "The Truth About Cats, Dogs, and Lawn Chemicals."

Cat and Owner Suspect Pesticide Origin in their Illnesses

Kathy Jordan suspects pesticides caused health problems for both her and her childhood cat. Although both recovered, the allure of a chemically-treated lawn is no longer the same for her.

"In the 1980's my next-door neighbors hired Chemlawn on a regular basis. I was a child and because their grass was so lovely and carpet-like, I spent more time in their yard than in my own.

At that time, there was no warning to stay off of the grass after treatment, and so no one ever instructed me or my neighborhood friends to avoid the treated grass. During summer vacations, I remember spending hours lying in their grass, playing tag with my friends, etc. I even loved the smell of Chemlawn, because of the positive associations I had with it.

One day, when I came home from school, my parents told me that our cat had been taken to the vet because he'd been sprayed with Chemlawn. He was clearly sick after having contact with the spray. My cat recovered, and because I was a child, I didn't think twice about the chemicals' effect on humans. I continued to spend lots of time in my neighbors' yard.

In 1989, at the age of 16, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I spent the next year battling cancer instead of being a happy, healthy teenager.

No one can say for sure what caused my cancer, but the thought has crossed my mind many times that it might have been the chemicals sprayed on my neighbors' lawn.

Since then, I have been a strong believer in keeping green areas natural.
Chemicals do not belong where children play.

Loss of Lab Inspires Owner to Take Action Against Pesticides

Jeffrey Siegel tried to protect the health of his dog, Tucker, by not using pesticides, but other neighbors chose to spray their lawns.

Now Jeffrey is getting active to protect the health of people and pets in the neighborhood.

"We lost our five year old lab named Tucker this year to bladder cancer, a rare cancer in dogs that has been linked to pesticides.

We don't spray and we never have sprayed.

Many neighbors in our area do (Possibly sort of akin to second hand smoke?).

We were surprised to find no cancer background in Tucker's line - he came from a serious breeder with long records of lineage.

We were on our boat when Tucker was diagnosed and died in surgery. Later, it was determined that his suspected spleen cancer was actually aggressive and advanced bladder cancer.

In the following months, we tried to figure out what caused the cancer. Through our amateur research, we realized that there seemed to be a high rate of cancer in our little town, Castine, Maine. In May, we attended a funeral of a 53 year old friend who died of breast cancer.

We live in a tiny coastal Maine town where everyone knows everyone. As we started showing people the number of pets and people who have died in the last few years, we found others who had been asking the same questions. A committee was formed and we were shocked by the number of people and pets who are sick here. There were too many.

We live in an affluent place. The concentration of cancer is in the village of Castine - basically a large hill of historic homes that leads to ocean frontage. At the top of this hill is a very-well-cared-for golf course. Of course, you won't find weeds anywhere on the golf course. And, of course, everything runs downhill.

We approached our Selectmen, who didn't know that our own town sprays its public lawns - directly outside the elementary school and where the kids play at recess. We got the town to enact a ban on pesticide use by the town itself - for the public places.

Maine is one of 8 states that would allow us to ban all pesticide use within the entire town.

Our group is in its early stage. We're trying to get the state health department to look at our data. If you can believe it, there are people who oppose this.

Thank you for your web site. We have a very large number of pets in our town who are out and about all the time. Your site will help educate our neighbors about some of the things they never really thought about, hopefully making it a safer place. Tucker would have liked that."

To read more about Jeff and Tucker and see pictures and videos, please visit Jeff's website at

Lawn Chemicals Also Pose Danger to Rabbits

We received several letters from animal lovers concerned about the hazards that lawn chemicals pose to animals other than cats and dogs, especially rabbits.

Colleen, from Australia:

"As a rabbit lover, I am concerned about your failure to include rabbits along with cats and dogs in the chemicals on lawns issue. Rabbits are much loved pets and very susceptible to contact with these dangerous chemicals and the dangers involved to them. They eat the grass and plants and are ingesting these cancer causing agents into their small bodies. I therefore plead with you to include rabbits in this issue, they cannot speak for themselves."

Bunny Hugs, Fiver, and Ms. Bea:

"Please add us Bunnies to your list! We are just as good as our friends the dogs and cats."

Lana Lehr and RabbitWise:

"As the third most popular companion animal in the USA, we rabbits are also concerned about chemicals on lawns project and their effect on us animals. We rabbits even eat the grass and other plants that we find around our yards. Many of us have outside time on the grass.


All Da' Bunz"

Unmarked Pesticide Application Potentially Leads to Death of Rat Terrier

Debbie Green Mitchel from Indiana suspects that a pesticide sprayal on her neighbor's lawn may have been the cause of her beloved Kikki.

"The chemicals used to treat a neighboring yard open to the public caused the death of our littlest family member. Our five year old beloved Rat Terrier, Kikki, was in perfect health.

My eleven year old daughter always walked her on our neighbor's lawn. That day, we had no warning it had been sprayed earlier, and I was at work.

Last year, our neighbors were able to warn us when their lawn was sprayed, but we did not get any warning this year. As a result, Kikki lost her life. I never dreamed this was possible."

The contamination took effect quickly. "In just two days she was gone, but had showed few signs of being poisoned. She had stopped eating well, but was a picky little girl. She did drink water, but had no energy.

Debbie decided to take Kikki to the veterinarian's, but it was already too late. "The morning I was going to take her to the vet, she was dead. I buried her last Saturday...the HARDEST thing I have ever done in my life! She is so missed!

The company should be required to at least post a warning sign. I have seen no rabbits since they sprayed that yard either. The yard is half an acre, unfenced, and a tragedy waiting to happen. I have been numb with a fuzzy mind all week due to their lack of concern with the use of such harmful chemicals."

Owner Suspects Toxic Metals in Fertilizers Killed Her Boston Terrier

After searching for an answer to her dog's health problems, a toxicology report led Jeannie Thompson to believe run-off water full of pesticides caused his seizures and blindness.

"Travis, known as Champion Wyatt’s Dancin Fool in the dog show world, was a wonderful, full of love and life Boston Terrier who came to live with us when he was almost three years old.

Travis LOVED water and could be found in any puddle, the doggy wading pool, and even in our bathtub.

Our back yard meets a very steep hill and wooded area leading to several homes above us. The run off from their yards and the street comes down the hill, overflowing a large ditch. Travis couldn't help it; he just couldn't stay out of the muddy water! He would gulp it up, roll in it, lie in it, and pull himself around on his belly in the water.

That late summer, early fall, Travis came in from playing outside and began to act very strangely. He went into a long, hard seizure and proceeded to have two more in the night. At the vet’s office in the morning, none of the potential causes seemed possible. They gave Travis a small injection of Valium and Phenobarbital, but about 5 minutes later he began seizing again. They had to put him under general anesthesia to get his body and brain to relax long enough to stop seizing. This was not normal. They ran all kinds of blood and lab work on Travis and came up with nothing. I had asked them to run a toxicology screen on him and check for toxic chemicals or heavy metals but I found out later they never did. With shrug of the shoulders, he was sent home on Phenobarbital pills .

Travis did better for a couple of weeks, but then began to have seizures while on the Phenobarbital. He went blind and began to walk in circles He never walked in a straight line again.

I found a fantastic naturopathic veterinarian (Dr. T. D. Hubbard), who suggested we do a screen for heavy metals in his body. It came back devastating!

Travis had extremely high, toxic levels of aluminum, arsenic, zinc and lead while being over the normal level in most all the metals. After talking at great length to Dr. Hubbard and doing a lot of research, we came to the conclusion that Travis had absorbed and ingested the heavy metals from toxic chemicals present in the run off water in the yard. They had accumulated over the year he had lived with us.

He was far too weak and sick for chelation therapy. In great sorrow, we decided to put Travis to rest and give him some peace.Who would have ever thought that their beloved dog, innocently playing in the muddy water, was killing himself? "

When Jeannie did her research about toxic metals and health problems, she looked at this study by US PIRG. Did you know twenty-nine tested fertilizers contained twenty-two toxic heavy metals?

These metals are linked to either ecological or human health hazards. Most noticeable is the wide array of toxic metals that exist in fertilizer:

Metal Tested Number of Fertilizers Containing the Metal
Aluminum (Al) 29
Antimony (Sb) 29
Arsenic (As) 29
Barium (Ba) 29
Berylium (Be) 29
Boron (B) 29
Cadmium (Cd) 29
Chromium (Cr) 29
Cobalt (Co) 29
Copper (Cu) 29
Iron (Fe) 29
Lead (Pb) 29
Manganese (Mn) 29
Mercury (Hg) 29
Molybdenum (Mo) 29
Nickel (Ni) 29
Selenium (Se) 29
Silver (Ag) 29
Thallium (Tl) 29
Vanadium (V) 29
Uranium (U) 29
Zinc (Zn) 29

For more information regarding fertilizer toxicology, you can read the official study at: