With the rise of powerful synthetic opioids, it’s vital that police officers know how to protect their K-9 partners should they be exposed to a substance such as fentanyl or carfentanil — both much stronger and more deadly than heroin, the Baltimore Sun reports. Maryland police departments have been training officers in their K-9 units on how to administer an opioid overdose reversal drug to their dogs in the event that they accidentally come in contact with these substances while sniffing for narcotics. In Baltimore County, officers learned how to use naloxone — known by its brand name, Narcan — on their dogs last year. It’s administered nasally, in the same way and with the same dosage officers are instructed to use on humans.
“These dogs, partnered with their handlers, are in many ways considered police officers themselves,” said Lt. Joseph Peach, commander of the county’s K-9 unit. “Dogs need to be able to get medical remediation the same way a police officer does.” It would take a “microscopic amount” of these synthetic opioids to be fatal to a dog, said New York-based veterinarian Paul McNamara. McNamara runs ODIN’s Fund, which provides first aid training to K-9 units across the country. “These dogs are on the front line,” he said. “They’re the ones going into the car and sniffing for drugs, the ones we’re using to combat this epidemic. … I don’t want to meet a handler whose dog passed away, who we could’ve potentially saved if we’d only been more proactive.”