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Posted: 7/14/2001 11:11:16 AM EST
Veterinarians Targeted by Drug Thieves By MICHAEL RUBINKAM .c The Associated Press PHILADELPHIA - The craze over one of the hottest new party drugs became evident at Dr. Fred Mishrikey's animal clinic last week, when armed robbers bound and gagged him and his wife and demanded his supply of ''Special K.'' Officials say the robbery is part of a nationwide trend as a growing number of drug users seek out a substance that produces a euphoric high but is able to tranquilize a horse with a dose of less than a half-ounce. ''The whole veterinarian community is scared. I'm a prisoner in my own office,'' said Philadelphia veterinarian Dr. Raj Khare, 66, who was robbed in June. Chemically similar to PCP, ketamine hydrochloride can be smoked, inhaled like cocaine or added to drinks for a hallucinogenic high. A single dose of the drug - known on the street as Special K or Cat Valium - sells for $20. Fatal in high doses, ketamine is also considered one of the ''date-rape'' drugs because it can cause users to fall into a stupor. ''It's been abused for a number of years, but with the club scene, it's becoming more popular,'' said Jude McKenna, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Philadelphia. Although there are no national statistics on the theft of ketamine from animal clinics, burglaries are becoming commonplace. In Allentown, Pa., four people were arrested for allegedly threatening to firebomb a veterinary practice unless they were given ketamine. In Arvada, Colo., thieves looking for ketamine allegedly broke into two animal clinics in one night. In Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, thieves posing as vet clinic workers sought to ''borrow'' vials of ketamine from other clinics. Philadelphia police believe the same theft ring is responsible for four recent veterinarian robberies. Two suspects were arrested this week, and police were seeking two others, Capt. Patrick Dempsey said. Mishrikey's assailants entered his clinic with their dog and told him the poodle had diarrhea. But after following Mishrikey and the dog into the examination room, the two thieves allegedly threatened him with a gun and demanded to know where he kept his supply of ketamine. Then they bound Mishrikey to a chair with duct tape and taped his mouth shut, doing the same to his wife.
Link Posted: 7/14/2001 11:13:24 AM EST
''We're sorry, we never meant to hurt you. God bless you,'' the intruders reportedly told the frightened couple before running out of the office with 17 bottles of Telazol, a lookalike drug they mistook for ketamine. Miriam Mishrikey used a letter opener to free herself and ran across the street to dial 911. ''I didn't care if I died. Everybody dies. But I was concerned about my baby boy, who is in high school,'' said Mishrikey, 63. After the robbery, the couple began wearing panic buttons around their necks that can summon police at a moment's notice. Other Philadelphia veterinarians have taken security measures as well, installing surveillance cameras and burglar alarms, keeping doors locked even during business hours and refusing to accept walk-ins. ''It sickens me that it's also used as a street drug and that apparently now veterinarians have become the target of drug dealers,'' said Dr. Ronald Kraft, an official with the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association who was one of about 70 vets gathered in suburban Philadelphia on Wednesday to discuss the threat. From 1994 to 1999, the drug was associated with 67 deaths in 40 cities surveyed by the Druge Abuse Warning Network. Emergency room visits in those same cities increased from 19 in 1994 to 396 in 1999. The drug can result in permanent brain damage and slow the heart rate to the point of death. It can also cause convulsions, especially when taken in large dosages, and vomiting when mixed with alcohol. McKenna, the DEA agent, said he is especially bothered that people are mixing ''Special K'' with other drugs such as Ecstasy. ''It's called poly-drugging,'' he said. ''They're mixing all these drugs together, and at any time any one of these drugs can kill you.'' Copyright 2001 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL. The party set have discovered that Ketamine has about the same effects in humans as Rohipnol. Making it also valuable as a date-rape drug.
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