Take Your Pet To The Vet; Steal Their Opioid Medication?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting a record 72,000 people died from opioid overdoses last year. Meanwhile, a newly published study from the University of Colorado shows pet owners may be intentionally hurting their animals to get the drug for themselves.   

Lili Tenney is with the Colorado School of Public Health. She helped lead the study, which surveyed nearly 200 Colorado veterinarians.

Tenney said 13 percent of those surveyed, “believed that a pet owner in their practice had potentially harmed an animal to obtain opioids for their own use.”

Veterinary opioids are no different than the opioids prescribed for humans. Tenney said this is an area of medicine that has been overlooked in the opioid epidemic, but that needs to change.

“Veterinarians stock these drugs in their clinics,” Tenney said, “so the access to them is actually easier than in medical facilities and health care facilities.”

Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, issued a statement saying, “it’s important to understand the role veterinarians, who stock and administer these drugs, play in combating the abuse and misuse of pain medications.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.