Doctors concerned about people using pets to get drugs - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Doctors concerned about people using pets to get drugs

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WILLIAMSON CO. -- Veterinarians say some pet owners are making false claims to access medicine meant for their pet.

Veterinarians in Colorado recently started seeing cases of pet owners faking injuries and rare cases of people going as far as harming their own pet just to get more medicine. In Marion, doctors told News 3 they haven't seen it get that severe but have seen other suspicious activity.

"It's frustrating because we want to make sure that the pet is getting the care that they deserve," said Dr. Smith, the owner and senior veterinarian at The Pet Wellness Center. "When I went to school in the late 80's, that was not even on the horizon of things we had to worry about."

Dr. Smith explained how the opioid crisis has created challenges in getting access to certain supplies, forcing his office to find alternatives in some cases. He stressed that his office takes cautionary steps to prevent cases of over prescribing.

While he hasn't seen any cases of people harming pets to get pills, it is still a concern. Last year, his office had one documented case where a client visited multiple clinics seeking pet prescriptions.

"We had to shut that client off, and there was no push-back from the client," Dr. Smith said. "They knew they were in the wrong."

Cases like that led to the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program, which helps provide a data source for physicians and pharmacies to avoid over-prescribing drugs.

As of January, the state requires all drug prescribers, including veterinarians, to participate in the program.

Many call it a step in the right direction and Dr. Smith urges people to get the support they need.

"Seek help for yourself, lets us take care of the animal and everybody will benefit from that," Dr. Smith said.

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