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Opioids in Veterinary Offices Pose a Threat to Pet Safety

For the drug addictive, owning a pet offers them an easy access to opioids.

Easy Access to Opioids

Recently, veterinarians in Colorado suspect that among their clients some may have intentionally hurt pets to get prescription painkillers. Though they are concerned, they seems to be rather powerless confronted with this group of despicable pet owners. After all, it is one of their duty to prescribe medicines for pets’ pains, no matter how the little creatures get injured.

The never-ending fierce war on drugs led by government make opioids in pet hospitals more appealing and easy to obtain for drug addicts and money-oriented people. And this could bring a disaster for innocent pets.

In Georgia, the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team received an information suggesting that Courtney Brown, a former veterinary technician, was prescribing medication for her deceased dog while employed at a local veterinary office between 2017 and 2018. She was then arrested and was charged with a felony for procuring a controlled substance by misrepresentation. This is not a single case, however. Another 22-year-old Georgia veterinary employee, Danielle Crescenzo, was arrested for stealing 177 tramadol pills from the veterinary hospital she worked.

Even some professional veterinarians commit pharmaceutical diversion. According to a survey done to 189 veterinarians in Colorado area, 44% reported opioid abuse or misuse by either their clients or staff members, and 12% said they knew of veterinarians themselves were abusing or diverting medicines.

More surprising is a man who claimed himself as a pet lover to get to work voluntarily in a veterinary office. At first, he worked a few days a week, then, a days in a few months. One day, he disappeared without notice. After his disappearing, the staff discovered that a significant amount of anabolic steroid medicine was missing from the stock after the man stopped showing up for work. This “animal lover” had been providing a local gymnasium with muscle-enhancing products stolen from the veterinarian’s office.


Victim of the War on Drugs


Pharmaceutical diversion can earn so much money that one can easily. At least, this kind of offense do no direct harm to pets. When a pet owner wants to commit this kind of diverting, pets usually are used as a tool of performance.

 In the early 2000, a man in Ohio allegedly taught his dog to cough on cue so the owner could get hydrocodone. The unreliable owner trained innocent and faithful pet to be the accomplice in his selfish offense.

Last year in Virginia, a young man claimed his small dog, Dolly, had been suffering from anxiety. He further explained that Dolly’s past bouts with anxiety had always been solved with doses of diazepam, which, of course, was the thing he wanted to acquire. He took Dolly to six veterinarians for the anti-anxiety pills and painkillers for his own use. Eventually, he was charged with prescription fraud.

Pet owners can be more crazy than your imagination. In 2014, in Kentucky, a young woman was accused of cutting her dog with razor blades so as to take dog’s pain medication. She took the golden retriever with multiple cuts that require several sutures twice in October. On December, it happened again. The vet recalled that every time she took the pet there, she asked for a kind of pain medication called Tramadol which is meant for dogs. Obviously, those pills were not used to alleviate the miserable dog’s pain.


What Can We Do?


In the US, some states are taking measures to tackle this war of opioid. Recently in Colorado and Maine, new laws are enacted to require veterinarians to check the prescription histories of pet owners and pets before the prescription. In Alaska, Virginia and Connecticut, there is a new limit on the amount of opioids a vet can prescribe. Besides, in Maine, veterinarians are required to get three-hour continual lecture on prescribing opioids every two years.

These measures, however, can hardly make impressive results. American citizens have a clear sense of boundary between different responsibilities. Along with their respect for privacy, many veterinarians refuse to check the medical history of their clients though with easy access to the database. One veterinarians insists, “I’m a veterinarian, not a physician. I shouldn’t have access to a human’s medical history.” As a result, the new laws has limited effect on the immoral behavior. What’s more, since veterinarians are not required to upload the prescriptions to any monitoring program, pet owners can take pets to multiple vets to get medicines they want.

Those “pet lovers” in fact are pet abusers. Pets are their tool to earn interests and satisfy their own needs. It is like when you want to require a furniture, you buy a hammer. They are so self-centered and money-oriented that they never see pets as a living creature with feelings, not to mention see pets as the companion. This kind of immoral behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

In fact, this is nothing wrong of pets, nor even of the opioids. It is some human beings driven by profit and desires who should be responsible for the situation. Likewise, it is not pets nor the opioids should take actions to make a change, but us. Pet lovers and people who respect life should work together in drug control and defending pets’ rights.

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