Just when I thought I’d heard (and seen) it all, this is a new low.
According to published reports, veterinarians in upstate New York are voicing alarm about cases in which pet owners deliberately hurt their animals in order to get painkillers.
“There’s unfortunately always the risk of abuse with any of these medications, and it’s a sad reality we have to be aware of,” veterinarian Lexi Becker told an NBC TV affiliate.
When it comes to Tramadol, Becker definitely has cause for concern. Although it is generally used to treat discomfort in dogs and cats suffering from arthritis, it also appeals to people with certain proclivities. Because it’s cheaper than Oxycodone, some addicts will stop at nothing in order to get their hands on it.
As a result, New York State lawmakers have created strict rules with regards to prescriptions.
“There’s a new regulation that came out in January of this year for New York State that basically restricts how long you can prescribe it initially, so there’s only a seven-day course that you can initially prescribe,” Becker said.
Veterinarians also take certain precautions when prescribing Tramadol, Becker told News 10.
“We are very, very strict about following the rules as to how quickly they can have a refill,” she said. “We will only give certain amounts of refills. We’ll only give how much the patient should be receiving.
Concern about Tramadol abuse are hardly limited to New York, however.
As the New York Post reports, Oregon authorities “seized 100,000 tramadol pills and rescued 17 dogs living in conditions so squalid, there were dead rats in their drinking water” in a raid outside Portland in 2016.
Police also made four arrests in the case. While the suspects “claimed to be breeding AKC-registered puppies,” police believe they were actually “running a thinly disguised opioid distribution ring.”
If so, it may well be the largest operation of its kind involving dogs, The Post reports.
Smaller cases are just as disturbing — if not more so. For example, the suspect in a Kentucky case was arrested and charged with “using a disposable razor to slice open the leg of her 4-year-old retriever on two separate occasions to get her hands on tramadol,” The Post reports.
Chad Bailey, the veterinarian who initially treated the suspect’s dog, said he had a gut feeling something was amiss when the owner quickly requested a refill.
“What’s scary is it took me two times to pick up on what was happening,” Bailey told The Post. “It worries me about the instances we miss.”