Austin sisters pioneer magnet that keeps fleas, ticks off dogs

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by Sarah Lucero / KENS 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @SarahLucero

kens5.com

Posted on November 13, 2009 at 11:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 24 at 3:52 PM

Kim and Fred Medrano bought a home on the far north side because it had a large yard for their dogs to explore and play in.

"They're my world. They're my children. I don't have any children, [so] they're my entire world," said Kim of her cocker spaniel dogs, Harmony and Melody.

But they never imagined that because their house is located next to a greenbelt, it would also be a haven for fleas and ticks.

"If we don't treat them, they overrun our yard and eventually get to our animals," said Fred about the infestation of pests in their yard.

The Medranos say they try to use pet friendly products, minimal insecticides, and up until 10 months ago, chemical spot -on flea and tick treatments for their pets.

"Because their nose and mouth go everywhere, we take a lot of precautions so we don't poison them accidentally," said Fred.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a warning this year about spot-on treatments. Pointing to the increasing number of adverse reactions in pets to these treatments, the agency is now intensifying its evaluation of these chemical products.

"It is important that the chemicals aren't used on the dogs anymore. I always had a concern about putting the chemical on the back of the neck like we had to before," said Kim. The Medranos no longer use spot-on chemicals after learning about a new product called Shootag. It claims to keep fleas and ticks off dogs and cats without the use of chemicals.

"I was skeptical [at first]," Kim said. "I wasn't sure how this magnetic tag was going to ward off any fleas or ticks."

"But after taking our dog to the groomers, we found the one with the Shootag -- believe it or not -- didn't have fleas or ticks," Fred said. "The [dog] that was using the chemicals we had been using for years had some fleas on her."

Shootag was developed by Austin sisters Kathy Heiney and Melissa Rogers. They say it contains no chemicals and is an eco-friendly product.

"We have been working in bioenergetics field for twelve to thirteen years," said Heiney.

"We got the idea, we worked on it, we collaborated with scientists and they said it was doable and here we are," said Rogers.

The makers say the tag works by creating a frequency barrier with the body's own bioenergies. Pets simply have to wear the tag with the magnetic strip facing the body.

They have tags that work for horses and people, too. For horses, Rogers and Heiney say Shootag wards off flies. On people, it keeps mosquitos, flies and chiggers at bay.

The sisters say exactly how Shootag works is their company secret, but they say scientists figured out how to encode the magnetic strip on the card with frequencies that make bugs uncomfortable.

One local pet store, Petworks, started selling the tags after the owner tried it on her dog. Sheila Crane says she saw the fleas literally jump off her dog.

"I don't understand it, but it does seem to work," said Crane.

As for Kim and Fred Medrano, they say the fewer risks they have to take with their pet cocker spaniels, the better they'll feel as pet owners.

"I love them to death. I'd do anything for them," said Kim.

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