DUBLIN (KRON) — As the popularity of fentanyl has grown on the streets, it has caused dangerous exposure to police dogs working in the field.
Police now need NARCAN kits for their K-9 partners in the event they are exposed during a search.
On Friday, KRON4 learned of a new partnership that could help save K-9 lives.
Canine handlers with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office have a special attachment to their dogs.
“This is my partner,” Deputy Chris Delima said. “I spend more time with her than i do with my family.”
In addition to the risks both handler and his canine partner face, there is now a new threat to their wellbeing.
“We’re worried about fentanyl exposure to our dogs,” Sgt. Ray Kelly said. “We’re starting to encounter fentanyl in our daily activities in law enforcement.”
What makes a dog so valuable to law enforcement also puts the animal at greater risk.
“They have so many receptacles in their nostrils,” Delima said. “It could hit the blood barrier a lot quicker and have side effects immediately.”
“Just the slightest exposure to fentanyl could be lethal,” Sgt. Kelly said.
To prepare for that exposure, the sheriff’s department has paired with Cover Your K-9, a non-profit that works with law enforcement agencies with canine units.
They are training and supplying NARCAN field kits as an antidote should a dog stumble across the powerful drug.
It is a simple nasal spray application.
“This simple device could be the difference between life and death for those dogs so that’s so important to us,” Sgt. Kelly said.
“For handlers to have this treatment, antidote option on their person at the time they need it is going to be critical for timing,” consulting veterinarian Erin Troy said.
The department hopes this will protect a valuable law enforcement resource as well as strengthening the bond between dog and handler.
“Our dogs have saved people’s lives,” Sgt. Kelly said. “They’ve found missing persons. They’ve done so many great things. This is such a worthwhile investment in them.”
The NARCAN kits will also be effective for people who may be experiencing an opioid overdose and are slated to be issued to all Alameda County deputies.
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