Drug abusers injuring pets to get their hands on opioid prescriptions
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) —
Veterinarians are now seeing the impact of the opioid epidemic on area pets.
We found pill popping puppy owners using a loophole in the system to score powerful painkillers from their local vet.
Drug addicts are pretending their pet is sick and sometimes injuring their pet just to steal their pain meds.
It’s called vet shopping.
ABUSED BY THEIR OWNERS
Alice is a golden retriever recovering from razor blade cuts inflicted by her owner.
Heather Pereira cut the dog on purpose so she could take the dog's pain medication.
A judge sentenced her to four years in prison.
Veterinarians across the country report owners injuring their pets to get opioids.
“Normal people would never do that to a pet, but it doesn't surprise me from someone who is addicted to drugs," said Dr. Dale Porcher, Owner of Shores Animal Clinic in West Palm Beach.
Dr. Porcher said the most common drug carried by vets and targeted by addicts by far, is Tramadol, an opioid pain medication prescribed for both animals and humans.
Criminals are abusing dogs to add to their drug sales.
In Oregon last year, a raid led to the recovery of 100,000 tramadol pills and the rescue of more than a dozen dogs.
"When we script it out we are very conscientious of, ‘Does that pet really need it? Or we worry sometimes that the person may be using it themselves," explained Dr. Porcher.
LOOPHOLE IN STATE LAW
We found there is no mechanism to track pet prescriptions like there is for people.
"So right now, there is nothing that stops a person from going to multiple veterinarians," said Dr. Porcher.
Jeff Kadel, the Executive Director of the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition said, “Unfortunately, I have heard of a few cases.”
Kadel says the abuse points to the ongoing opioid crisis.
“I think what we are looking at now is educating doctors and other practitioners that actually prescribe and develop a program for vets," added Kadel.
Some states are doing just that.
They require veterinarians to log their prescriptions on their state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
Florida isn’t one of them despite the statistic that the state records, on average, 16 deaths per day from drug overdose.
New legislation just passed to combat the crisis includes a three-day limit on powerful opioids prescriptions.
It also requires both prescribers and pharmacists to enter the prescription into the state's monitoring program.
But veterinarians remain exempt.
In theory, because they are prescribing opioids to a pet rather than a person.
It's a loophole with unimaginably cruel consequences.
We reached out to several local legislators, the people with the power to change the law, and questioned why they don't close the loophole. We are still waiting for a response.