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Drug Sniffing K9s In Danger of Overdosing On Dangerous Narcotics


May 14, 2018 Photos by: Dragosh Co/Shutterstock

Drug overdose is not reserved for humans only- our four-legged companions can suffer fatal consequences if exposed.

Every day, police dogs are risking their lives in the line of duty. Whether it’s apprehending a dangerous suspect or acting as a support to a SWAT team, being a K9 means that perilous situations are part of the job description. Drug-sniffing canines, however, might risk even more to help their human colleagues uphold the law.

In addition to coming into contact with criminals, sniffing K9s are directly exposed to numerous hazardous substances. Unlike humans, who rely on their sight to spot any suspicious packages, dogs go into the unknown with their nose first- which means they often inhale whatever narcotic they happen to find. The consequences of contact with drugs are frequently fatal to dogs: the year before last, 36 police dogs died from exposure to heroin. And to make matters worse, dealers are now mixing carfentanil and fentanyl with illegal heroin for a “better” high, and the amount of this drug equivalent to a single poppy seed is enough to kill an adult dog.

According to an article published by CNN, there is a simple solution that could help law enforcement officers protect their furry companions. A team of researchers from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine came up with a guide to dog overdose named “Working Dog Treat and Transport protocol.” The team is currently training emergency medical personnel and first responders to treat dogs exposed to drugs, and their work could help save many K9s. They are also educating police officers to administer Narcan to their service dogs- this is a drug that reverses the effect of narcotics in people, but works on canines, too.

The life-saving initiative was made possible by the Illinois law from last year, which states that the use of ambulances to transport police dogs is legal (although humans have the priority). Hopefully, others will follow in the footsteps of this midwestern state and ensure their K9s get the protection they deserve. And, in all honesty, it’s the least we could do- after all, police dogs put their lives on the line for their humans without asking anything in return.

Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she’s not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.


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