House bill would require pet owners to microchip animals to obtain opioids

February 25, 2019 06:29 PM

Pet owners will be required to microchip their pets in order to obtain powerful painkillers prescribed to the animal, under a new bill introduced in the state House Monday. 

The measure comes three months after a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation exposed a gap in the system that allowed pet owners to doctor shop at vet clinics. 

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Rep. Kurt Daudt, House Minority Leader, introduced H.F. 1731 on Monday, in an attempt to stop pet owners from fraudulently obtaining narcotics to feed their own addiction.

“We know it’s out there and know it exists,” said Rep. Daudt. 

In November, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS showed how Shannon Toomey spent a year jumping around vet clinics in Dakota County to feed her own opioid addiction.

RELATED: Vets: Microchipped pets could foil drug addicts

“At the time, I was like, this is my little secret. You know, as an addict, I was like this is a gold mine,” she said in November.

The reason it was so easy is that veterinarians have no effective way of knowing if another vet just prescribed painkillers to a pet.

But those days may be over.

Two Minnesota veterinarians have been testing a system using microchips in pets that, when scanned, would tell doctors if another vet just prescribed opioids at another clinic.

“This should prevent both the misuse and doctor shopping and also prevent one from ever thinking of injuring an animal to feed an addiction,” said Daudt. 

Under Daudt’s bill, owners would have to get their pets microchipped if they want an opioid prescription that is longer than a week.

Dr. Mary Olson, who helped develop the system, expects the issue to be debated but is excited to see a solution on the horizon.

RELATED: Addicts turn to animal clinics for easy access to painkillers

“I’m just pleased that there are so many people in support of allowing a veterinarian program to exist,” she said.

The state board that regulates veterinarians said it plans to discuss the bill at its next meeting.

The measure is not just for dogs – it would apply to any pets and even large animals like horses.

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