Local veterinarians are on the lookout for people who may be using their pets to get drugs for themselves.
The opioid epidemic has reached such a crisis level that veterinarians are now playing a part in fighting the problem.
Addicts are apparently becoming more creative to get their fix.
Police in Elizabethtown, Kentucky say a woman repeatedly cut her dog to get pain pills to feed her own addiction. Heather Pereira was arrested in 2014 and charged with cruelty to animals.
“I have not seen it in my practice but it is out there,” Dr. Randy Hammon told Channel 3.
Dr. Randy Hammon of Northgate Animal Hospital says veterinarians have been alerted to what’s going on and he is always looking for red flags.
"From a compassionate standpoint, we are very concerned about pain control and pets need that too. It is a situation where you want to make sure the client is not going to more than one vet hospital and not going through medications faster than they should be,” said Dr. Hammon.
The drug of choice is Tramadol, a pain medication used for pets with arthritis that works similarly to morphine but it is a lot cheaper.
“The kids will take the Tramadol and they will chug it with beer,” said Dr. Hammon.
Tennessee has taken steps to fight the opioid epidemic. It has a controlled substance monitoring database allowing doctors to check a patient’s drug history before writing a prescription.
Most veterinarians also request pet records.
Tennessee has tough laws against people who hurt animals. The state became the first one in the country last year to launch an animal abuse registry.
According to the Humane Educational Society, there have been no reports so far of anyone actually hurting pets to get drugs but they encourage people to call it in if you know of an incident.