Addicts using pets to score drugs, veterinarians warn

As animal lovers, veterinarians pride themselves on being trusting and caring people.

They don’t want to believe anyone would intentionally hurt their pet, but in recent years, they’ve had to train themselves to look out for those who do just that as drug addicts turn toward animals to score pain medication they can’t easily access.

“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?”

Vets say drug users are often looking for Tramadol, an oral medication that has opiate-like effects.

WTSP

Jones said the training starts in veterinarian school but has expanded to animal hospitals across the country as more and more report incidents with clients.

“We’re always looking for signs of animal abuse,” Jones added.

Twenty years ago, vets were told to closely examine pets, looking for recurring wounds and grilling their owners. Now, vets are told to take a close look at 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.”

Vets are extra cautious when they’re seeing new clients. Those typically tend to be the people who try to score drugs, Jones said.

“The ones being abused aren’t seeing us regularly; they’re moving from vet to vet,” he said.

If the pet owners refuse to allow the hospital to get a hold of previous records or come in actively looking for drugs by name — like Tramadol, for example — that triggers an alarm for vets. Vets are then advised to look for a drug-free, safe alternative to treat the injured…

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