Addicts do some pretty fucked up shit to get high. I have shared openly about pilfering medicine cabinets, stealing from my former employer and climbing into the dumpster behind my old apartment after a bag of dope tossed out in a frenzy of “never agains.” But I drew the line at animal cruelty. In fact, my dearly departed Siamese cat, Ms. Kitty, probably lived better than me during the worst of my active addiction. That’s why a recent story in the Washington Post about a Kentucky woman who was caught injuring her dog so she could steal his pain medication simultaneously made me feel empathy and disgust.
Man’s Best Friend
Apparently, vets prescribe dogs some good shit. That’s what Heather Pereira learned when she brought her four-year-old golden retriever to the Elizabethtown Animal Clinic outside Louisville, Kentucky and was handed the powerful opioid painkiller Tramadol. It was a regular old Friday and the dog had an injured leg that required stitches.
Pereira requested Tramadol by name (red flag number one) and the vet gave it to her. The following Monday she was back, asking for more. She claimed her kid had accidentally flushed the first bottle of pills down the toilet (red flag number 2). Then, she came back a month later. The old cut on her dog’s leg had not yet healed but there was a new injury and she was asking for Tramadol again. But the cat was clearly out of the bag by then because this time the vet reacted differently.
Pet Plan Goes Bust
The veterinarian, Chad Bailey, told Pereira to wait, then left the room and called the cops. Good job, Chad! It turned out that Pereira doc shopped her poor injured dog to another local veterinary clinic asking for Tramadol before hitting the Elizabethtown Animal Clinic. It also turned out that Pereira had cut her dog with a razor blade three different times to obtain Tramadol. Shudder. In the end, she was convicted on three counts of animal torture and five counts of obtaining a controlled substance by making false statements. Though she was sentenced to four years in prison, she got out two years early and left the state; here’s hoping she’s getting some help and steering clear of Petco stores.
On the bright side, authorities reported that Pereira did not actually have the child she had blamed for flushing the dog’s pills. Thank goodness this lady doesn’t have a kid! She should probably avoid caring for living things, short of maybe a cactus, while she works on getting herself together.
No Excuse for Pet Abuse
My poor cat may have been a tortured soul (she used to cry and destroy things for no apparent reason just like her mommy) but she was never actually tortured. Sure, she went through the ringer with me when I was getting high. I got her during a particularly wasted summer I spent living in the attic room of a big, dirty house with like 12 roommates. She was a kitten and I was a 21-year old baby dope fiend. But I always made sure she had food, water and a clean litter box—even when I was starving (in the name of buying drugs) and sleeping on two pieces of a second-hand lavender sectional in an empty apartment. She got clean with me, moved with me seven times and outlived three “step” cats. Ms. Kitty survived long enough to hand me off to a husband and kid before she finally died last summer at the ripe old age of 18. All animals should be this lucky.
No Laughing Matter
I wish I could say this article is the only time I’ve heard of a human taking an animal’s medication but I lived through every single day of the 90s high as fuck, so I encountered my fair share of the horse tranquilizer/party drug Ketamine (Special K for my fellow Jnco jean and glow bracelet wearers). I also stumbled upon a story in my real life not too long ago that’s strangely similar to the one from the Post, so I know it’s not just a creepy one-off news story. A lady who had around five years clean when I first came into recovery 15 years ago recently found her way back to the rooms after a relapse. Guess what she was using? Her dog’s pain medication! Without the grisly animal torture component, my first impulse was to laugh when I heard this. But then I realized it’s not a joke, but rather a testament to the power of the disease of addiction. Let’s hope stories like these serve as a cautionary tale—for veterinarians and addicts alike.
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