ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida veterinarians say some pet owners are using their animals to get prescription medication for themselves, and they say some of them are going to extremes.
News 6 found out an alert was sent to veterinarians across Central Florida by the Veterinary Emergency Clinic chain. It advised veterinarians to be on the lookout for pet owners who may be trying to get pain medications for themselves by claiming their pet is in pain.
"It's a new thing that has popped up," said Dr. Christine McCully.
McCully said just a few weeks ago someone brought their dog into the Downtown Pet Hospital in Orlando seeking pain medication and she quickly suspected the pills would not be going to the dog.
"We have had a scenario where we've had newer clients, so not a long-standing relationship with someone, claiming an injury to their dog or a chronic condition, requesting a particular medication," she said.
The most popular medication being sought --is Tramadol.
According to the website drugs.com, Tramadol is an opiod, just like oxycodone, and both of them are highly addictive.
The same website claims Tramadol is much cheaper that oxycodone.
According to its numbers, one pill of oxycodone can cost $10, while 1,000 pills of Tramadol can cost $25.
McCully says she keeps her office's stock of Tramadol locked away in a safe to prevent anyone from getting to it.
She says she has seen a rise in people coming into her practice simply to ask for Tramadol.
"I will get a lot that people that are just down here on vacation," she said. "That's a little more concerning for repeated refills for medication."
What's even more concerning, is that News 6 found a case in Kentucky where police say a dog owner cut her own dog open, so she would be prescribed Tramadol by the veterinarian.
In Oregon, a police raid led authorities to seize 100,000 Tramadol pills and rescue more than a dozen dogs.
"If I were to see something like that, I would absolutely report it. That's beyond normal behavior," McCulluy said. "We would report it to the police."
To prevent abuse, some veterinarians have stopped prescribing Tramadol altogether.
McCully says she resorts to injectable medication first, but she says Tramadol is an important tool in her office to fight pain.
She said she has a message for any pet owner contemplating going to such extremes to get the medication.
"I would say, 'Go through the proper routes. Go to your doctor, and if you actually need it, get it appropriately,'" she said. "You're putting at risk lots of other people."