PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Veterinarians say addicts are turning to harming their pets in order to score drugs.
In recent years, experts say they have had to train themselves to look out for people who may be hurting animals in order to gain access to pain medication.
“We would never think of people using or abusing these drugs,” Dr. Duffy Jones, owner of Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, told CBS News. “We typically believe what people tell us and we don’t want a pet in pain, but now we’re taking a bit more of a critical look at exactly what the client is like and what the dog is like — does it fit?”
Years ago, vets were told to take a close look at pets for recurring wounds and interrogate owners. Now they are sure to take a close look at the owners as well.
“We’re really looking for things that don’t match up,” Jones said. “As we start to question the owner, we look at the owner’s response.”
Veterinarians are especially careful with new clients.
“The ones being abused aren’t seeing us regularly; they’re moving from vet to vet,” he said.
If owners are reluctant to allow the hospital to access previous records or ask for a specific drug such as Tramadol, that raises a red flag. Tramadol is an oral medication that has opiate-like effects.
In Kentucky, police say, a dog owner named Heather Pereira, 23, cut her dog with razor blades just so she could take the dog’s pain medication in 2014. She was sentenced to four years in prison, WSB-TV reports.