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Pets Have Become Unwilling Pawns In The Opioid Crisis

This latest news story was especially hard for us to report on, but we feel that it’s an important message to get out into the public. Tragically as America’s painkiller addiction epidemic worsens, more and more people are purposely injuring their pets to receive prescriptions. Part of this research comes from veterinarians, who have been seeing a spike in suspicious dog and cat injuries.

Based on new data attained from The University of Colorado, 13 percent of vets across the U.S. now claim to have encountered a client who appeared to have purposely injured their pet. Even worse, 44 percent said they were aware of opioid abuse by a regular client. The bottom line is: this crisis has just about hit rock bottom.

It is appalling to think that innocent animals are now being abused to get opioid prescriptions. And keep in mind, the amount given to animals isn’t even substantial (which means these people have reached lowest of the lows with their addiction).

Interestingly, there was another component revealed by this study as well. Not only are patients breaking the law to get their hands on more opioids; apparently veterinary staffers are doing the same. Nearly half of all vets surveyed suspected that someone on their staff was also addicted (be it a technician, office worker or receptionist). 12 percent believed that someone in their office could be selling part of their practice’s supply on the black market.

One big problem that this research addressed was the lack of opioid education among veterinary professionals. Unlike doctors, vets don’t undergo the same type of painkiller prescription training. They also are unfamiliar with how to handle an overdose. And the fact that they have the power to dispense these painkillers, makes this type of learning exercise vital.

“In conversations with these doctors, they often ask: ‘Well, what do we do? We need to treat pets who are in pain but we also need to know how to identify and handle suspicious behavior.’” study author Liliana Tenney told the website, “But there’s not a lot of resources or training right now to direct these veterinarians.”

Well for the record, state laws mandate that any medical provider (including veterinarians) who stocks opioids must disclose their prescriptions to an online reporting system. Tenney believes that vets don’t have the same type of pressure as doctors when it comes to logging these in.

And, of course, any and all suspicious pet injuries need to be examined very closely and reported, if need be.  To help implement a positive change in the industry, Tenney and her team have created an online education course which we recommend sharing with all local vets.