US 20040170404 A1
A plug-in pet deterrent having a one-piece electric plug heater block which applies heat to a wick in fluid communication with container of pet deterrent material. The electric heater facilitates the evaporation of the pet deterrent liquid into the surrounding area thereby providing prompt and efficient control of the urinating and defecating habits of household pets. The wick, container, and pet deterring liquid form a removable and replaceable cartridge which snap-fits within the one-piece electric heater block.
1. A plug-in pet deterrent device, comprising:
(a) an outer shell;
(b) a electric plug heater block disposed within said outer shell, said block having a heater element and having a pair of prongs electrically connected to the heater element, the prongs extending from said shall and being adapted for attachment to an electrical wall outlet;
(c) a container snap-fit received by said shell;
(d) a wick, having an upper and lower section, the lower section extending into said container, the upper section being received by said block; and
(e) a volatile pet deterrent liquid disposed within said container; wherein said pet deterrent liquid is volatilized and dispensed from said shell when said block is plugged into a wall outlet and the heater element causes a rise in temperature at the upper section of said wick.
2. The plug-in pet deterrent device according to
3. The plug-in pet deterrent device according to
4. The plug-in pet deterrent device according to
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to pet control devices, and more particularly, to a plug-in pet deterrent device, which, when inserted into an electric outlet, emits a vapor that is safe for humans, but deters household pets, such as cats and dogs from urinating or defecating in a specific area.
 2. Description of the Related Art
 It is frequently desired to exclude unattended domesticated animals from certain areas. Many times the concern is regarding “accidents” rather than the actual presence of the household pet in a specific area. It would be most desirable to provide ways of excluding such domesticated animals from leaving excrement in specific areas without otherwise limiting their freedom of movement, as would be the case with traditional alternatives, such as by caging them, or by using chairs or furniture to block off certain rooms.
 In the past, attempts have been made to control domestic animals through the use of materials which would be repellent to the particular animal, and a number of animal repellent materials are known.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,344,649, issued to Mungia in 1994, discloses a cat repellant and a dispenser for the repellant using common pepper as the repellant. U.S. Pat. No. 4,804,142, issued to Riley in 1989, discloses a pest repellent article comprising an outer cover and an inner porous removable pest repellent composition carrier member impregnated with a volatile pest repellent composition.
 U.S. Pat. No. 3,474,176, issued to Freeman in 1969, discloses repellents in which the active components are ketones, which provide safe, effective compositions for controlling animals. Pressurized liquid, or ready-to-use liquid products, using ketones, methyl nonyl ketone in particular, reportedly repels cats and dogs for about 12 to 14 hours, and although effective for short term protection, are ill-suited for long term protection and require reapplication of the product.
 Attempting to overcome this limitation, U.S. Pat. No. 6,395,290, issued to Brown in 2002, discloses a film, sheet or shaped article incorporating methyl nonyl ketone which can be placed in an area or near an object desired to be protected and provide sustained protection.
 Wicking devices for dispensing liquids other than pet repellents, such as fragrance, deodorant, disinfectant, or insecticide active agents into the atmosphere, are also well known. A typical wicking device utilizes a wick inserted into a reservoir containing a volatile active agent. A typical wicking device is described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,413,799.
 A more effective set of dispensers incorporate electric heating devices for heating the active agent thereby enhancing evaporation and the dispensing of such materials as air fresheners, deodorizers, and insect control materials either emanating from a wick immersed in a liquid or from a solid tablet. U.S. Pat. No. 5,201,025, issued to Landesberg in 1993, discloses a dual-purpose electric vaporizer comprising a container having an electric heating element and an upper and lower tablet containing area, wherein an air freshener tablet and an insect repellent tablet are simultaneously vaporized. U.S. Pat. No. 5,647,053, issued to Schroeder et al. in 1997, discloses a vapor dispensing device for disinfectants, sanitizing agents, insect repellents, and insecticides. U.S. Pat. No. 5,976,503, issued to Martin et al. in 1999, discloses an electric outlet mounted air freshener dispenser device which incorporates a wicking mechanism and which may alternatively dispense therapeutic aromas or pesticides into the atmosphere. U.S. Pat. No. 6,141,496, issued to Sundberg et al. in 2000, discloses an electrically heated air freshener for producing a scent emanating from a fragrance block. U.S. Pat. No. 6,478,440, issued to Jaworski et al. in 2002, discloses an electrically heated dispenser for such active materials as fragrances and air fresheners and further comprises a plug-through capability and night light. In U.S. Patent Application No. 2002/0048530, Wohrl discloses an electronic scent delivery system having one or more cartridges filled with scented oil maintained within pockets within a tray slidably received by a housing. The cartridges are heated to an evaporative state and a blower is provided to disperse the scent.
 None of the above inventions and patents, taken either singly or in combination, is seen to describe the instant invention as claimed. Thus a plug-in pet deterrent solving the aforementioned problems is desired.
 The present invention is a plug-in pet deterrent which provides an effective means by which household pets are deterred from soiling an area by providing a pet deterring active agent within a container sized to be received within a plug-in diffuser or fragrance warmer. Accordingly, it is a principal object of the invention to provide an effective method to deter domesticated household pets from soiling a room or area where the present invention is operating.
 It is another object of the invention to provide a household pet deterrent which is effective against domestic household pets, but has no effect upon, and is unnoticeable to, humans.
 It is a further object of the invention to provide an inexpensive and decorative solution to the problem of “potty training” a pet.
 It is an object of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof for the purposes described which is inexpensive, dependable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.
 These and other objects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.
FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view of a plug-in pet deterrent according to the present invention.
FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of a plug-in pet deterrent according to the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a side view of a plug-in pet deterrent according to the present invention.
 Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.
 The present invention is an electrically heated pet deterrent dispensing device, designated generally as 10 in the drawings. As shown in FIG. 1, the deterrent device 10 is designed to deter household pets, such as cats and dogs, from urinating or defecating in a specific area of a house. As further shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the deterrent device 10 has prongs 14 which are plugged into an electric outlet, the electricity providing the source for a heating element contained within block 22. The heat from the block 22 facilitates evaporation of pet deterrent fluid from the top of a wick 20. The wick 20 is fixed to the top of container 16 and is in fluid communication with a reservoir of pet deterrent fluid 18 held within container 16. The container 16 snap-fits within shell 12 and the container, wick, and pet deterring fluid are removably replaceable. A plug-in vapor dispensing device which uses a wick and heating element is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,647,053, issued to Schroeder et al. in 1997, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
 The pet deterrent fluid 18 held in the container 16 is a liquid composition of methyl nonyl ketone, a substance known for its use as a dog and cat repellent/training aid, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,395,290, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. Although methyl nonyl ketone is the preferred pet deterrent active agent, other volatile pet deterrent agents known in the art which are capable of evaporation at the temperature produced by the heating element, such as animal predator urine, may be used in lieu of methyl nonyl ketone. The pet deterrent fluid may be mixed with a small quantity of air freshener or other volatile, fragrant scented material in the container 16, so that the vapor emitted by the dispenser deters pets from using the room or other protected area for eliminating, while the fragrance or air freshener masks any odors that may be noxious to humans.
 Other embodiments of the present invention may include the use of a pet deterrent active agent in block, tablet or other form for use in air freshener devices or vapor dispensing devices which evaporate aromatic material in forms other than liquid contained in bottles.
 It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.