Chattanooga veterinarians suspect people using pets to get pills for themselves

With the growing abuse of opioid s in our country, Dr. Tai Federico says says he suspects some people are using their pets to get pills.

Veterinarians suspect some people may be going through a backdoor to get high, using their four-legged friends.

Dogs and cats often take some of the same medications as people after surgery or for chronic pain. With the growing abuse of opioid in our country, Dr. Tai Federico says says he suspects some people are using their pets to get pills.

He's treated pets in Chattanooga for more than 20 years. Recently, he says he's become concerned about animal owners' intentions after they repeatedly asked for specific pills for their pets.

"You can say definitively that we have stopped seeing some clients because we've had suspicions that the medication was being diverted from their pet to their own personal use," Federico said.

Federico says he doesn't have physical proof that's happening though, partly because it's hard to track what medications a pet has received in the past.

"There's no way to search if you are getting medication from six different animal hospitals," he said.

In Tennessee, you can track that kind of information on people.

Rae Bond at the Hamilton County Medical society says to eliminate doctor shopping, physicians must check a state database before writing someone a powerful prescription.

"It helps them capture a much fuller picture of their patient, if in deed they are getting prescriptions from more than one source," she said.

Federico says vets are required to report the controlled substances to the state if they are prescribed for three or more days. However, only the pet's name goes on the form, and there's nothing keeping people from switching that name at different offices.

"We're not required to check the system because dogs and cats are not searchable on the data base," he said.

He does have a suggestion on how to make them searchable - microchips.

"It's less than $50 to put one in," Federico says.

His proposal is to require a microchip go in every dog needing a prescription for more than three days.

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