BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Drug addicted pet owners are turning to animal abuse to score their next fix, in a disturbing and desperate trend.
Maryland veterinarians tell Kimberly Eiten, it’s a new concern, and is putting them on the look out for red flags.
In a new low in this opioid crisis, some pet owners are abusing their animals so they can then score and abuse animal painkillers.
These little white pills are tempting enough to turn some pet owners into animal abusers.
Back in 2014, inside a Kentucky police station, Heather Pereira confesses to cutting her golden retriever named Alice with a razor blade over and over again — all to score her next high.
A pet painkiller called tramadol is strong enough to give humans an opiate-like fix.
Pereira landed four years in prison For animal torture and obtaining a controlled substance fraudulently.
Baltimore veterinarian Dr. Vivien Kraselski at Eastern Animal Hospital has seen some questionable cases come through her exam room.
“They were a little bit too familiar with the different kinds of classes of medication that their pet needed based on their own expertise,” she says.
Vets say red flags can be raised when a pet’s prescription runs out weeks early, or a new client comes in looking for a specific drug.
“It worries me sometimes that if I send home pet medication, is the pet getting it or is it not?” says Dr. Kraselski.
Recovered herion addict Matthew, who lives in Calvert County, tells WUSA9 Washington he’s been desperate enough to steal syringes from his diabetic cat.
“When you have an active addiction, you’ll do what it takes to get that next high.”
But, there’s a new rule for veterinarians.
A Maryland statute now says animal hospitals that prescribe controlled substances have to register with a drug monitoring program by July 1.
“I think that’s going to be a great first step,” says Dr. Kraselski.
It’s unclear what will happen next with that program. But, it could cut down on pet owners being able to vet shop, in search of drugs.
That program, now extending to animal healthcare, was created five years ago to help fight the opioid epidemic.