Have you received the emails? I have. They warn of severe reactions to ProMeris, a new flea and tick killer made by Fort Dodge. Disorientation, salivation, vomiting, difficulty walking…all have been reported by a handful of users of this product, which contains amitraz and metaflumizone.

Their testimonials have made the rounds on the Internet lately, frightening me and many others away from this product’s potential benefits. Check here. And here.

What can I say? I’m only human. I read something scary and it sticks in my head.

But I’ll not rely on modern mythology on this one. I’ll carry ProMeris if and when I’m satisfied these anecdotal claims are the result of something other than the proper application of the product.

Remember the Febreeze thing? About a decade ago the Internet spawned a delicious rumor on the evils of this spray-on household deodorizer. "It kills pets!" some exclaimed. That’s when the game of telephone went into overdrive, fueled by the speed of our newly acquired cable modems. The Febreeze people had a hard time debunking the myth, missing out on a big chunk of pet owning income, for sure.

No, I’m not crying for the Febreeze people, much less the brand managers of this world. I’m just pointing out that pet people have a lot of power — power we have the chance to wield for good (as in the pet food recalls, for example), and for … well … not so good when we get a little jumpy about our pets’ health, as in the Febreeze case (no, it does not kill pets).

When I called Fort Dodge to get an explanation of the ProMeris issue, they reported that the product had been deemed safe in its trials and that the reports that have surfaced on the Internet more likely reflect reactions due to ingestion than as a result of its proper, topical use, but that the investigation was ongoing.

On Snopes.com, an urban legend investigation site, the jury was still out on the claims of severe reactions to ProMeris. Last week, it quoted Dr. Tom Linz, a veterinarian and representative for Fort Dodge as saying, "a group of veterinarians in the company handle these adverse events when people call in, and we investigate them thoroughly to make sure it is the product and it’s not a concurrent product or something else going on."

Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence (sounds kind of canned, right?), but what do we expect? The ProMeris folks have to be given some time to carefully investigate the cases.

Luckily, we have lots of time … fleas and ticks will always be with us, it seems. If ProMeris is safe and worthwhile it’ll still be around next year for those of us looking for creative new ways to kill ‘em.