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Veterinarians Asked To Be On Lookout For Opioid Addicts Stealing From Pets

NEWTON (CBS) – Investigators fighting the opioid crisis are looking from help from veterinarians.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan recently wrote a letter warning Massachusetts vets to be on the lookout for owners trying to take medication prescribed for their pets.

The move was sparked by a letter from a constituent.

"She had a family member struggling with addiction who had switched out the dog's opioid medication," Ryan told WBZ-TV.

In more obvious and horrific cases, Ryan says people may actually abuse their pets to get opioids.

In Kentucky there was a case where a woman was accused of cutting her golden retriever with a razor blade to get the dog's narcotics.

"They are the same drugs that are FDA approved for humans," Ryan said.

"We use them on a regular basis for surgical cases, for animals that are in pain," Dr. John de Jong, Newton veterinarian, told WBZ.

But some vets argue human addiction is not in their wheel house.

A new law in New Hampshire requires veterinarians to check the state's prescription drug monitoring program to see if owners have a problem before prescribing to their pets.

"We don't know how to interpret the data. It's just a list of medications. Most of those medications we don't use. A lot of them we don't even recognize," said Dr. Sue Watkins, a veterinarian in Allenstown, New Hampshire.

De Jong wants to put his pets first.

"Veterinarians are not DEA agents. We are not the law or law enforcement. And for us to have to pursue that considering the HIPAA laws and all that, (that's) potentially a problem," he said.

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