Vet Shoppers: Requesting Pet Meds For Personal Use

Officers and detectives combating illegal opioid use and overdoses around the county are also facing another battle – misuse of animal medication prescriptions. These two topics may sound completely unrelated to one another, but in fact, some drug users are turning to vets to get their hands on opioids and benzodiazepines, drugs which impact the central nervous system.

In 2016, Detective Richard Henry from the Franconia District Station worked our agency’s first case involving someone who was obtaining prescription medications for his pet and consuming the drugs himself. An investigation determined the man was visiting multiple vet offices within a short amount of time, using a variety of false pretenses to receive prescriptions for controlled substances. This practice, which has been termed “vet shopping,” is being used around the country by people who abuse or misuse prescription pills. The detective has since worked a second case involving something similar.

Detective Henry has put together a brochure to educate the public on the dangers of vet shopping, and clues to look for. The pamphlet is also being distributed among local veterinarian clinics and offices so their staff is aware and can report suspicious behavior.

Possible clues someone may be a veterinarian shopper include:

• New patients bringing in seriously injured animals
• Describing symptoms which seem inconsistent with the exam
• Describing symptoms requiring specific medications
• Requesting medications by name
• Requesting early refills of medication
• Requesting refills while missing appointments
• Aggressive pet owners

If you or someone you know needs help to overcome drug dependence, please call the Community Services Board at Merrifield Center at 703-573-5679 to find treatment and recovery services. Walk-ins are also welcome Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Please continue to monitor our Twitter @fairfaxpolice and our blog, for the latest information.