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New Law Limits Options For Putting A Pet To Sleep

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- For many people, their dogs and cats are more than just pets, they are a part of the family. So when pets get sick, some veterinarians make house calls and bring much needed medicine directly to the animal to keep it as comfortable as possible, especially when the pet has to be euthanized. But now, a new federal law is making that nearly impossible.

Some pet owners opt to have a veterinarian come into their home to make the process more comfortable for both them and the pet.

"We don't own a cat. We have a cat that lives with us, he's a part of the family," Bill Graham said.

Sometimes they need medical assistance and for Charlie that means veterinarian Kate Bryant arrives at his home for his personalized care and she was here when his predecessor Daniel became too sick to go on.

"After Kate gave him a calming drug, he came over and sat in my wife's arms and Kate gave him the shot and he died in my wife's arms. It was very emotional, but it was very peaceful," Graham said.

In the Daley household, before Pepper there was Dakota.

"He was my best friend. I adopted him right out of college and he went everywhere with me," Jennifer Daley said.

Dr. Bryant would climb in her SUV to come take care of him when necessary, including during his hospice days to make him more comfortable and on his final day as well.

"Having the ability to have the veterinarian come to the home in a place where he felt comfortable safe, and not in pain, made that passing so much more pleasant for him and certainly for us," Daley said.

However, the feds have changed the drug rules.

"If they are suffering or in pain, you can't help them," Bryant said. "We're no longer allowed to carry our controlled drugs with us."

"It's one of those unintended consequences of trying to control the drug industry so there aren't abuses. I get all of that, but you have to separate out what a human practice is like and what a veterinary practice is like," Dr. Mike Hutchinson said.

Dr. Hutchinson said not only can he no longer go to a patient's home to peacefully end a pet's life; he also is now barred from creating his own drug compounds for the smaller exotic pets he sees.

"If they tell me we can no longer do that, then I don't have any drugs I can use on exotic animals," Dr. Hutchinson said.

Dr. Bryant, who rents surgical space when her patients need it, said also caught up in this rules change are ailing farm animals.

"You just can't get a cow, sheep, pig, goat to the hospital all the time," she said.

A bill to take the clamps off vets was introduced in Congress recently, but the wheels move slowly on Capitol Hill, and the DEA crackdown is coming fast.

The American Veterinary Medical Association is urging people to contact their lawmakers and urge them to support a bill that would allow vets to treat animals outside of a clinic.

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