BURLINGTON, Vt. – The president of the Vermont Police Canine Association wants to make sure every K-9 unit in Vermont has access to Narcan, an overdose-reversal drug.
Burlington Sgt. Wade Labrecque says ten years ago, K-9’s were mostly detecting cocaine, a drug that carried its own risks.
Now, however, heroin, specifically heroin laced with fentanyl and carfentanyl, poses deadly dangers to K-9’s if ingested.
“They don’t, unfortunately, have the awareness that we do of the different types of heroin, even the heroin itself can be dangerous not to mention the fentanyl and the carfentanyl as well,” said Sgt. Labrecque. “They can absorb the heroin and the fentanyl through their paws just like we absorb it through our skin.”
Due to training and taking precautions, no Vermont K-9’s have been exposed to those deadly strains, Sgt. Labrecque says.
Burlington police officers have Narcan on hand in case themselves, or their furry partners, accidentally overdose.
If officers do see the signs of overdose, they can administer Narcan, or any other overdose-reversal drug, and then take the K-9 to an animal hospital.
Some veterinarian hospitals already know about fentanyl and the drugs that can be used to reverse overdoses.
“After they fix a fracture or they’ve done chest surgery or abdominal surgery, they’ll get fetanyl afterwards for pain relief,” said Dr. Bryan Harnett, internal medicine specialist, from the Burlington Emergency and Veterinary Specialists, or BEVS, in Williston.
Because fentanyl is administered for medical purposes, the BEVS office has Naloxone on site.
“Out in the field, if you notice that reduction in breathing rate, heart rate diminishing, body temperature going down, becoming less responsive or overly sedated then they could come in and get a dose of Narcan,” said Dr. Harnett. “Occasionally you’ll need to repeat those doses of Narcan so they’d need to be admitted to the hospital and monitored overnight.”
While Burlington officers carry Narcan, Sgt. Labrecque is working with Dr. Paul Howard, of the Vermont Veterinary Surgical Center, to get overdose-reversal drugs for all of Vermont’s K-9 teams.
“Some smaller agencies, it could be somewhat cost prohibitive, but that’s where the Vermont Police K9 Association comes in,” said Sgt. Labrecque.
He says donations to the non-profit could help provide Narcan for every K-9 in the state.
You can donate to the Vermont Police Canine Association specifically for Narcan purchases.
Visit http://www.vtk9.com/ for more information.
By: Staci DaSilva