BOSTON (CBS) – They use their noses to search for drugs and it’s a dangerous job for the K-9s of the Massachusetts State Police. That is why K-9 officers will now start carrying injectable Narcan to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“The dog could die if we don’t use this and get to the vet immediately,” explained Sgt. Pat Silva who heads up the K-9 Unit.
The State Police are the first department in Massachusetts to require K-9 officers to carry the injectable version of the drug. According to Silva, other states have carried a nasal version for their K-9s but he believes this is a better delivery system. “The needle gets screwed on and plunged into the hind quarters, so it can get into the blood supply quicker,” he said.
Last fall, three police dogs in Broward County Florida nearly died after finding Heroin laced with Fentanyl during a drug search. All three were rushed to an animal hospital for treatment.
The signs of an overdose in dogs are similar to those in humans. According to Silva, they watch to see if the dog is inactive, unresponsive to commands, or if the animal has trouble breathing.
According to Silva, troopers won’t use the dogs to search for the ultra-potent and deadly synthetic opioids like Fentanyl or Carfentanyl, but they don’t always know what they’ll find. “Our handlers will have a conversation with people during car stops, but 99% of the time the people are not completely honest with us,” he said.
K-9s are an expensive investment for State Police. They department invests about $100,000 in each dog, but that’s not the only reason why troopers are carrying Narcan to protect them. “We spend more time with them then we do our families,” Silva said.
Troopers are authorized to use the Narcan on any animal that appears to be suffering from a drug overdose, including K-9s from other police agencies or even a household pet. The 2 milligram dose is the same for a dog as it is for a human.