The Opioid Crisis Is Real. Is Your Pet In Danger Too?

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Data extracted from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paints a grim picture: the opioid epidemic continues to claim about 115 human lives per day in the United States. Along with humans, their pets are now also in danger. A few of these pets get into this position as they are exposed to harmful environments. Others are susceptible due to their work. Since dogs and other pets almost everything they see, many inadvertently lick drug cooking or manufacturing equipment. This results in an opioid overdose. In such cases, only timely medicine can save that specific pet’s life.

Vulnerable dogs in law enforcement

Police dogs, in such context, are more vulnerable to the opioid crisis. Many drug dealers try to boost their profits by sprinkling synthetic opioids over standard narcotics like heroin to jump-start the highs of their customers. The principal villains are carfentanyl and fentanyl. A single grain of this lethal mix is sufficient to murder a police dog weighing 75 pounds. The affected dog at first loses its motor function, then slowly lose consciousness, followed ultimately by body collapse. There is one silver lining though: if treated early, the dog will be safely out of danger.

Police dogs are particularly vulnerable as unlike their human masters who wear masks to protect themselves from fentanyl, the canines cannot do so. The dog may die if a couple of drug powder grains get absorbed into the nose’s mucous membranes or even the area around eyes. This is the reason many police forces have changed their tactics. The dogs are bound by a leash in the areas where drugs are expected to be stashed. Law enforcement officers also carry Narcan, a medicine, either in the injectable form or as a nasal spray. Police use these compounds on dogs if they believe that their canines have been compromised by such dangerous opioids.

Finding a solution to a tricky problem

Police officers have to solve another problem: how to make a dog detect opioids on a regular basis and yet still remain functional with minimum medication. Dogs in such cases are required to find fentanyl, a compound used exclusively by drug sellers as a USP of their drug. The biggest roadblock is that fentanyl is responsible for 80 percent of dog deaths. The Canadians have found a solution. The potent fentanyl powder was converted into a diluted liquid form. Few drops of this product were squeezed on a gauze pad. This then functions as the target which the police dog must locate. Since there are no powder granules, the dog learns the nature of the odor sans any risk. The canines were then trained not to approach where the drugs are stashed. The dogs simply point towards the spot.