Police K-9 units around the country have had to switch gears when it comes to using drug-sniffing dogs. That’s because powerful, synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanyl are proving harmful to police officers and police dogs alike.
Sgt. Randy Beane heads the K-9 unit for the Dayton Police Department. He says the department is stepping up its efforts to keep both officers and their canine assistants safe.
“If we would get a package from the U.S. post office and they said, ‘hey, we believe there’s fentanyl in it,” the officers wouldn’t do a sniff on it, because it’s not worth the risk to the dogs of having them overdose and potentially dying from it,” he says.
The Dayton Police Department currently uses five police dogs, and so far the department has not experienced any overdoses.
Last September three police dogs in Florida, searching for drugs, overdosed after inhaling trace amounts of fentanyl, the Associated Press reported. The dogs were revived with the use of NARCAN.
In Dayton, Beane says DPD officers who work alongside dogs also carry an injectable form of the anti-overdose medicine, supplied by a veterinarian.
Beane also says police officers no longer conduct their own field tests on suspected drugs.
To avoid possible overdose, the department now requires officers to wear rubber gloves when handling substances and send drug evidence to a lab for testing instead.