Vets say addicts are using pets to get opioids

By Jennifer Lee, Kaitlyn Naples

BRANFORD, Conn.A (WFSB) -- There is a disturbing new trend is surfacing at veterinary hospitals.

People suffering from opioid addiction are using their pets to get their fix. In some cases, injuring their own animals.

A vet in Branford said a pet owner wanted pain med re-fills for his dog, quickly.

He would go to the animal hospital during different shifts to see different vets who might prescribe his dog a controlled substance.

“I never thought we would see anything like that here,” said Jennifer Shortt, of Mill Pond Veterinary Hospital.

They have spread the word and now he’s been flagged at other local veterinarian offices.

“That’s how desperate unfortunately it’s becoming,” said Deborah Yarrow, of Mill Pond Veterinary Hospital.

She said animals are vulnerable to the epidemic.

“It’s wrong that they’re using their dogs to get their opioids. It’s also wrong that they’re willing to injure their dogs to get the drugs that they need,” Yarrow said.

Vets in the area are now trying to get his pet removed.

The animal hospital in Branford is raising awareness about this type of animal abuse.

They posted a warning on their page, and shared a case out of Kentucky where authorities say a woman used her husband’s razor to injure the family retriever to get opioid pain killers.

“They’ve even had cases where they’ve broken their leg to get pain meds for their animal and then refuse treatment to treat the leg which is unheard of in my world,” Yarrow said.

Marla Berrios is the owner of a 5-year-old cat named Desmond, and says this behavior is beyond her comprehension.

“Everybody needs to know that there is someone there to help them if they need help. Whether it’s family members helping one another or friends doing the same thing for each other,” Berrios said.

The animal hospital in Branford is flagging cases where refills are requested too soon, offering non-opiate drugs and keeping communication lines open with other vet offices.

They’re hoping the community will also step up to protect animals.

“If you see something, say something is what we’re trying to get across,” Yarrow said.

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