As police officers throughout Maryland are trying to get synthetic opioids off the street, their K-9 partners are becoming more at risk of overdose. It has been determined that synthetic opioids, such carfentanil and fentanyl, are more deadly and powerful than heroin.
To keep their K-9 partners safe, police officers are undergoing training on how to properly administer naloxone to their dogs. While it is not unusual for a drug-sniffing canine to inhale some of these substances, too much could cause an accidental overdose.
Baltimore County K-9 officer underwent the training last year. They learned how to administer naloxone – brand name Narcan – to their dogs, which is similar to how it is administered to unresponsive humans. Naloxone is available in a nasal spray and intended for immediate administration to block the effects of opioids.
To properly administer the drug, just insert the nozzle into the nostril, tilt the head back and press firmly on the plunger, alternating nostrils with each dose. After the drug is administered, the animal or human must be turned on their side.
Unlike other police officers, County K-9 officers carry two vials with them all the time.
Since K-9s are placed on the same level as police officers, they are qualified to receive medical remediation in the same manner as a police officer.
Paul McNamara, a New York-based veterinarian, said a “microscopic amount” of a synthetic opioid is fatal to a dog.
So far, there have been no canine opioid overdoses reported in Maryland, but the fear and possibility still exist.
When Broward County officers were executing a search warrant in a suspect’s home, three dogs were exposed to fentanyl. The dogs were suddenly unable to stand or move and their eyes fixed in a blank stare. The dogs were taken to a local veterinarian clinic and only one required naloxone.
A Harford County Sheriff’s deputy, Cpl. Kevin Phillips, required naloxone after coming in contact with a substance that was found out later to contain lactose, fentanyl and heroin. Phillips was responding to a call of an overdose that took place inside a house. Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin or ingested.
Harford County K-9 units have been carrying naloxone for their dogs for over a decade, according to spokeswoman Cristie Kahler. The officers have never had to administer it to their dogs.
K-9 units throughout Maryland, including Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel, Washington and Frederick counties, have undergone training to administer naloxone to dogs.
Earlier this year, Baltimore City Police officers began learning how to administer Narcan to their dogs.