Police dogs follow their noses to sniff out narcotics. Inhaling powerful opioids can be deadly, so officers have a new tool to protect their four-legged partners: naloxone, a drug that has already been used for years to reverse overdoses in humans, reports the Associated Press. Law enforcement officers have started carrying naloxone with them on drug raids, when K-9s are often sent into houses or cars to find narcotics. Three police dogs in Florida were rushed to an animal hospital last year when they ingested fentanyl, a powerful painkiller that is often mixed with street heroin but is 50 times more potent. Massachusetts State Police started carrying naloxone for their K-9s in March. Police in Hartford, Ct., started in January.
Even a small amount of powdered fentanyl can sicken police officers, so dogs are even more at risk, said Brian Foley, deputy chief in Hartford, where 11 members of a SWAT team were sent to a hospital after they were exposed to a mix of heroin and fentanyl during a raid in September. “Dogs are not looking for drugs with their eyes and feeling with their fingers; they’re literally breathing it in and inhaling it,” Foley said. “Our officers wanted it for their dogs’ safety,” he said. “They love their dogs like family and they want to protect them. They know they’re putting them in the line of serious risk of overdose.” The drug blocks the effects of opioids and reverses overdoses with few side effects.