Veterinarians taking proactive approach to opioid abuse

Veterinarians taking proactive approach to opioid abuse

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - You asked, and Newschannel 10 looked into it.

Many in search of drugs have turned to a cruel method, to acquire their painkillers, according to veterinarians and law enforcement officials around the country.

It's a disturbing thought to think a pet owner would hurt their loyal animal, to get their hands on drugs, but it is happening. However officials in our area agree it isn't a problem with the system of veterinarians prescribing, it's a problem with the people. But their continued efforts of being proactive are working wonders.

"It's a sad human being that's willing to hurt their own pet just to get drugs for themselves," says Dr. Merten Pearson. And it's even more sad that it's actually happening.

The latest case is out of Kentucky where a woman is accused of cutting her dog with a razor to get pain pills and in Oregon, dozens of dogs were found in bad conditions with about 100,000 pain killing pills.

Local veterinarians tell us, don't even try it here. You will quickly be reported if any red flags arise. And most veterinarians in our area are proactive. Vets are extra cautious when seeing new clients, as traditionally those tend to be the people who try to score drugs. And if owners come in requesting the drugs by name, that's another red flag for veterinarians.

"Honestly we haven't seen that much around here," says Pearson. "I haven't had a real problem with it. I have not heard my colleagues comment on it, but I know they're all paying attention because we all worry about not contributing to the opioid epidemic that everybody's talking about."

And it really is an epidemic. Dr. Jeanie Jaramillo-Stametz says veterinarians are typically more cautious, either giving the animal the drugs in-house, or limiting the prescription, all while looking for signs from owners.

But using this method can put a drug user in even more danger.

"Veterinary medications that are for small animals like cats or dogs are often in very small doses, relative to humans so they're really not a good choice for abuse. There are other medications that might be for horses or cattle, and those can actually be fatal if taken by a human because they are made for such a large animal," says Jaramillo-Stametz.

"You've got a pet that's in pain and you're going to leave them in pain so you can have a recreational drug? I'm sorry. No."

You are encouraged to dispose of any animal medications leftover, at the poison control center or veterinarian it came from. You can also call Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare to do a quick check up if you suspect any abuse.

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