Police arrested John Sirico, the manager of a Nutrition Zone health and nutrition store in Fairfield, after a raid turned up five dozen bottles of the Catnip Cocktail dog and cat anxiety treatment, which has been linked to bizarre behavior in humans.
According to police, the drug was hidden from view and no advertisements reflected that the store sold it.
The drug is not made from the catnip plant. But it is “a very dangerous product, and it appears its improper use is on the rise,” the police chief said in a statement.
Fairfield police chief Anthony Manna said officers first became aware of the drug’s effects last summer when they found a man near the store dancing, yelling, and exhibiting mood swings.
Last month, another man was seen driving erratically on a highway near the store. When police stopped him, he appeared confused and unaware of his surroundings.
In both instances, officers recovered bottles labeled Catnip Cocktail.
A New Jersey man is facing DWI charges after he admitted to drinking a bottle of Catnip Cocktail before getting behind the wheel last week.
Police in Wayne said they made the arrest after stopping a car that was driving erratically and speeding near Route 23 and Packanack Lake Road on a Saturday night.
When officers pulled the vehicle over, officers noticed that its 35-year-old driver had slurred speech and jerky hand movements. One of the officers responding found that a passenger was holding a bottle labeled “Catnip Cocktail.”
That driver told police he was headed to a hospital, and that that he had made the passenger hold the bottle while he was being stopped. He also said he had drank the substance, but wasn’t sure how much he ingested or when. The driver was arrested on huffing, DWI and reckless driving-related charges.
When Catnip Cocktail is metabolized by humans, police say it is similar to GHB, which is sometime used by partygoers and is known as the “date rape” drug.
According to the company Web site, Catnip Cocktail is “intended solely for the treatment of anxiety in cats and dogs” and “NOT approved for human consumption.”
The Nutrition Zone store manager, who lives in Tafton, Pennsylvania, was also charged with possession of 29 bottles of human growth hormone, 20 bottles of a mixing agent, and seven high-capacity handgun and rifle magazines.