Home Local News Fentanyl putting police K9s at risk, not yet an issue in Kosciusko...

Fentanyl putting police K9s at risk, not yet an issue in Kosciusko County

Fox News recently reported police officers conducting drug raids with their K9 units are now dealing with what the DEA has called an “unprecedented threat”: fentanyl.

Fentanyl is so toxic that even the most minuscule amount is all it takes to sicken or even kill.

Police canines are more susceptible to because of their super-strong smelling skills, and because they do not have the same protective gear as their human partners.  The drug can easily be absorbed through the K9’s pads or sniffed up through their jowls, according to Andy Weiman, a detective and police canine trainer in Broward County, Fla.

Fortunately, police are finding dogs responded to the same treatment used on humans who suffer opiate overdoes: a dose of naloxone, aka Narcan, and plenty of fluids.

News Now Warsaw spoke with Cpl. Travis Shively and Rex, the K9 team from the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department about this issue and luckily it is not a prominent problem here in Kosciusko County.

“I have not been on a call involving Fentanyl in a few years. I believe we had a “rash” of overdoses in the county all around the same time, but as a K9 team we have not encountered it specifically,”  said Shively.

Shively, as well as all KCSD road officers and Drug Task Force team members, carry Narcan.

Shively recently completed the required training for Narcan. “Initially, I had some concerns about carrying it, however after hearing that some of our officers had used it, to my understanding successfully, I spoke with one of our medics about it. It was then that I learned that it would be beneficial to have it on hand not just for the intended purpose of people, but also for Rex.”

Rex started with the KCSD office in 2008. Shively became Rex’s handler in August 2010, but they did not become operational as a team until January 2011, after completing training and certification.

Rex can be credited with close to 400 drug and contraband finds in the county, according to Shively.

Rex’s most interesting find occurred during a vehicle pursuit in Syracuse, which ended in the subject running on foot before officers were able to apprehend him.  As he ran into a wooded area, Rex was requested to the scene to track the suspect by Syracuse officers. During the course of the track, Rex started to seem uninterested in continuing to track the suspect and several times tried taking officers away from obvious signs that they were on the suspect’s trail.

After exhausting all efforts to locate the suspect, Shively decided to follow him in the direction that he seemed preoccupied with. After a short time, Rex brought the back-up officer and Shively into a clearing, where they located just over 35 full grown marijuana plants.

“The ability of these dogs to multi-task and differentiate between and remember multiple odors is truly amazing, they love to work,” said Shively.