Veterinarians warn about drug addicts harming pets to get painkillers

(WSVN) - Veterinarians are speaking out about a new, horrific way drug addicts are trying to get their hands on painkillers: by abusing their pets.

Fox 30 reports that one New York veterinarian says their practice no longer carries Tramadol, a painkiller commonly prescribed for pets suffering from arthritis.

Dr. Lexi Becker said she has heard about cases of pet owners intentionally hurting their animals, then asking for the drug.

“There’s unfortunately always the risk of abuse with any of these medications, and it’s a sad reality we have to be aware of,” Becker said.

Becker said many veterinarians take precautions with prescribing Tramadol, and watch for owners who request a refill for their pets earlier than expected.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration declared the drug a controlled substance three years ago.

Because it costs as much as 20 times less than oxycodone, DrugAbuse.com warns the drug “may become the new opioid of choice for abusers.”

Authorities in several states are investigating instances of possible abuse by pet owners.

Fox 12 in Oregon reported that deputies seized 100,000 Tramadol pills in November from a dog breeding facility where puppies were found in deplorable conditions. Police suspected the four people arrested in that raid got the pills through having the dogs.

In Kentucky, a woman was charged with torturing her 4-year-old Golden Retriever by cutting the dog three times so she could get the painkillers, according to WHNS. Veterinarians became suspicious after she quickly asked for a refill, claiming her child flushed the pills down the toilet. Authorities said the woman had no children.

A man in Utah requested multiple refills of the drug, raising a red flag with his veterinarian, Dr. Jolie Pope.

“Doing the math, he should have had two more weeks on that prescription,” Pope told KSL. “It shouldn’t have been out yet, so that raised a flag.”

The man was arrested after Pope discovered he had visited multiple vets in a short time span, all to get Tramadol.

And in Ohio, Fox 8 reports that, after a couple seeking the pills for their dog were refused, they broke into the animal clinic to steal the medicine from a safe. Police later determined they had also burglarized three other veterinary clinics.

Veterinarians are now warning colleagues about “doggy doctor shopping” on trade-specific message boards.

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