Monday, September 15, 2008

Consumer Affairs: Dog dies because of Swiffer Cleaner?

Yesterday, after posting my comment here I kept browsing the net and came across an article published by Lisa Wade McCormick of Consumer Affairs. It was titled “Dog Owner Claims Swiffer Cleaner Cost Pet’s Life”. In it she reports of a grieving Jacksonville, NC pet owner who claims her healthy five year old Miniature Pomeranian suddenly died in July after she cleaned her floors with Swiffer Sweeper Wet Cloths. Initially she didn’t connect the problem to the floor cleaner. The first time her dog got sick was after she had used the cleaner, but the dog had also gotten into the trash can that same morning. So she figured that may have caused the problem. But then, after a second cleaning, her dog got sick again and immediately passed away. She took him to the vet, told him her story and the vet concluded that dogs like to lick freshly swept floors due to the sweet taste of the cleaner, but the cleaner also contains toxic ingredients that could cause an animal’s death after ingestion. The dog owner contacted Consumer Affairs, they started an investigation. They contacted the vet, he never returned any of their calls. Then they contacted the veterinary toxicologist who runs the Animal Poison Control Center for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Dr. Steven Hansen. He told them that it would be unlikely for the product to be related to the dog’s death and they at that point were not aware of any similar reports related to that product. Finally Consumer Affairs contacted the manufacturer of the cleaner, Procter & Gamble. Their spokesman, Mr. Benton, said he'd never heard of any problems with this product. "This is actually the first time I've heard this story associated with the wet cloths." Benton, however, said false rumors have circulated about pet illnesses and deaths linked to the Swiffer Wet Jet products. According to those rumors, those products may contain ingredients that are toxin to children and pets. "The truth is, all Swiffer products are safe to use around children and pets when used according to directions, a fact confirmed by independent scientists, veterinarians, and the ASPCA," the company said. Consumer Affairs also learned the ASPCA investigated the rumors and confirmed the allegations were unfounded. Veterinarians with the organization said the ingredients in the Swiffer Wet Jet cleaner, water (90-100%), propylene glycol n-propyl ether or propylene glycol n-butyl ether, and isopropyl alcohol (1-4%) , did not pose a health risk to pets. "These ingredients are safe to use around pets when used according to label directions and would not cause liver damage at product concentrations," ASPCA wrote shortly after the rumors surfaced a few years ago. P&G spokesperson Benton said he would forward the dog owner’s concerns to the company's R&D team. "Thanks for bringing this to our attention," he said.
Back in NC, the dog owner is still wondering what happened. "I don't want this to happen to anyone else," she says. "I was devastated when this happened and did not think I was doing anything wrong." She added: "The only warning Swiffer have on the label is to keep out of reach of children and pets in case of accidental ingestion, just the same as any other household product you may buy. They need to have a warning that is more effective in educating consumers."
Let me make it perfectly clear that the dog owner has my absolute sympathy for her loss, nobody deserves to have a loved one taken away neither like this or as a matter of fact any other way. But here is my view:
I haven’t seen the label on the Swiffers yet, my wife doesn’t use them, but I will take a look at it next time I go to the store. Dog owner: Either your comment about the label got sort of bent out of shape when published by Consumer Affairs or you still are confused about what it really says their. Your statement just doesn’t make any sense to me: “The only warning is…to keep it out of reach of children and pets in case of accidental ingestion”??? Is it maybe possible that you only read half of the label? And, I am sorry, I don’t need any warning label. I just use common sense and will never let my pets either even walk on a just mopped floor nor do the worst, let them lick up the cleaner. I don’t care how safe the label says the product is. Plus, at least the 1st time around you were aware of the fact that your dog was in the trash can, so why don’t you start looking there first. Your dog quite often seemed to be without your supervision at least for some short periods of time. I find it a little wrong to blame the resulting outcome on a totally unrelated cleaner manufacturer. I doubt your dog died within minutes after having a little taste of some cleaner, even if it would be toxic. It is your obligation to make sure your pet is safe. Don’t blame someone else for your own lack of responsibility. If I would be like you, maybe I would ask if you fed your dog possibly one of the recall brands. To your vet I like to say that I hate it when people make totally unqualified statements about something they absolutely have no knowledge of. And while I may instinctively have very slim doubts about P&G’s innocence, the fact that the ASPCA said there is no risk convinces me that the product is safe. Though I still will not let my pets lick the floor. There’s no reason for that either, it just have been cleaned. Case closed, swiff it away, I prefer problems based on actual facts, like found sometimes in pet food.

No comments: