Have you ever filled a prescription for pet meds? My cat takes pills for high blood pressure and I find that every trip to the pharmacy to pick up his medicine offers a new challenge. All are a consequence of a federal law that guarantees privacy protection when it comes to sharing personal health information. I’m pretty sure the law applies only to humans, but if it doesn’t, the first thing I need to make clear: my cat has never expressed a wish to keep his health history secret.
The following is a compilation of the various conversations I’ve had over the past eight months when I’ve gone to collect his medication.
“The name on the prescription?” The clerk whispers and encourages me to be discrete, in case someone behind me in line is eavesdropping.
“Oscar,” I say in a normal tone of voice.
“Do you have ID?”
“My cat has a chip.”
“What’s his birthdate?”
“I don’t know. He was a stray.”
“Oops. I mean what’s his address?”
I give the address and ask, “Have you had problems with cat identity theft? Are cats trying to get drugs they don’t need and then selling them on the black market?”
The clerk glares. I can’t help myself. “Or problems with cats suing for privacy violations?”
I sign the form that says I received the prescription and pay. She looks toward the person behind me in line, seemingly happy that I’m leaving. But that won’t keep her from asking the same questions next month.
I recommend having a chat with your pets in case you ever have to fill a prescription for them. You’ll feel more confident that you know how to respond to tricky personal questions without violating their rights.