The Drug Enforcement Administration warned police officers that a small amount of fentanyl, either ingested or absorbed through the skin, can be deadly to both humans and police dogs.
The Springfield K-9 unit estimates it has confiscated more than 19,000 grams of drugs during 670 deployments over the last 3½ years, including 13,000 grams of marijuana.
They’ve also found about $300,000 and about 50 guns.
However, the K-9 unit recently had to refuse search warrants for drug sniffs because fentanyl — a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin — can be harmful to the dogs.
Fentanyl is usually mixed with heroin and is 50 times more potent than heroin.
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Officer Kevin Hoying with the Springfield Police Division is assigned to Spike, the K-9 police dog.
He is a 70-pound black shepherd that Hoying said that is just like any other dog but highly trained.
“We work alongside the drug business. We also go out on patrol and we will take routine calls. If we get busy, we will take the higher risk calls,” Hoying said.
The two are often called to sniff for drugs like meth, marijuana, cocaine and heroin.
That’s because his nose is more sensitive and can detect them better.
“A human being has about five million olfactory receptors or smell receptors; where a German Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd, shepherds have 225 million,” Hoying said.
However, that can make Spike more vulnerable.
Hoying has refused to take Spike inside of homes.
“If we have intel that the dealer is dealing primarily fentanyl, then I don’t take him into the house whatsoever,” Hoying said. ““He has the potential of overdosing, and I’m going to take every precaution I can so that doesn’t happen,”
That is one way he protects the animal.
“I never put Spike in cars. I only have him sniff the exterior of a car,” Hoying said.
Spike is one of two police dogs with the Springfield Police Division. Neither he nor the other dog have come close to overdosing.
If he does, the division does have access to dog versions of Narcan, which can reverse an overdose and revive him.
A local veterinarian in town will soon teach Hoying and the other K-9 officer how to use the injectable units in the event it ever must be used.
Hoying hopes it never comes to that because Spike is the best partner he’s ever had.