Law enforcement officers and lawmakers in Ohio are so desperate to make a dent in the prescription drug abuse epidemic that they have turned to a place few might have considered - the veterinarian's office. Attorney General Mike DeWine is trying to work with the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association and state boards to teach veterinarians about the possibility owners might abuse medicines prescribed to their pets.
DeWine's office says some owners may even be intentionally harming their animals in order to get prescriptions.
These concerns stem from reports by police officers and community leaders. And they have spurred legislators to insert tougher language in a bill that strengthens penalties for cruelty to "companion animals." That is wonderful. Any effort to fight animal cruelty is worthwhile.
However, when it comes to prescription drug abuse, Jack Advent of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association says the state's veterinarians have not seen evidence of such a problem. Because the possibility has been raised, the group is ready and willing to work with DeWine on education and prevention efforts. But Advent reminds it would be difficult for an owner to fake the kinds of illnesses or situations for which opioids are generally prescribed.
And, "If someone would abuse their animal, I'd like to think a lot of our members would recognize it wasn't an accident, it was abuse to begin with," he said.
State officials are to be applauded for giving this plague so much thought and effort that they are willing to try anything to stop it.
Certainly, the pet medicine angle should be covered - but it probably represents a miniscule part of the problem. Perhaps officials' efforts would be better spent targeting more logical sources for the drugs, instead of barking up the wrong tree.