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The Ohio Attorney General’s office is investigating complaints that some people are abusing drugs prescribed for pets, or intentionally abusing animals to obtain painkillers.

Police officers and community leaders have reported such incidents, according to Jill Del Greco, a spokeswoman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. The Attorney General’s office is working with the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association and state licensing boards to inform veterinarians about the issue, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

On Wednesday, Ohio legislators inserted language into a bill that strengthens penalties for cruelty to “companion animals,” such as dogs, cats and other animals that live indoors. The Ohio House approved the bill on a 90-1 vote.

Veterinarians will be provided with educational materials including tips for identifying abuse, as well as information for pet owners about how to dispose of unused medications. “Doctors might have a preconceived notion of who might be a prescription drug abuser but this is the type of problem that could affect any family,” Del Greco said.

According to Jack Advent of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association, his group has not seen evidence of the problem. He told the newspaper opioids are generally prescribed for animals after surgery, and for those suffering from arthritis and other long-term illnesses. “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.

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