Canada’s Preparing Dogs For The Fight Against Fentanyl

K9 Units from all over North America are eager to learn how to detect fentanyl safely.

By Justyne Yuen-Lee
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Dogs are amazing companions, but they’re not just good for their looks and friendliness! Dogs have been alongside humans since our ancestors met and made relationships to survive. Over the years, dogs have helped us hunt, herd, and travel. They have become our partners in crime (both literally and figuratively) and have become beloved family.

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Dogs of course participate in our armed forces, are with our fire fighters and with our police forces. They save lives every day, whether it’s from an avalanche, in burning buildings, or fighting deadly drugs.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police in OntarioCredit: Facebook / Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ontario

In Alberta, Canada, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) dog-training center offers a workshop that trains dogs to sniff out fentanyl, an extremely dangerous drug that has permeated coast to coast. This workshop is the first of its kind, which led to the eagerness of police forces to come and learn.

CPPD K-9 KiahCredit: Facebook / CPPD K-9 Kiah

Since the opioid fentanyl is deadly when inhaled, there was no safe way to detect it. The RCMP created a diluted liquid form of the drug for safe detection.

The program is relatively new, but very popular.

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Staff Sergeant Eric Stebenne who is a senior trainer for the RCMP dog service training said the pilot program only trained three dogs last year. These dogs intercepted 12 000 fentanyl pills in British Columbia.

haleys-kazooRCMPCredit: RCMP / 2017 RCMP Name the Puppy

The RCMP trained 139 RCMP narcotic dog teams in Canada in February and word of these programs spread across the continent.

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The RCMP decided to host a workshop for all those interested. Stebenne said it’s relatively easy to get dogs to sniff out the drug. After two or three times they can detect it, and are happy to for a treat!

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But, in the real world, fentanyl would not be in the safe form, so dogs are trained not to go for it. They sit to signal the handler that they found the drug. Each handler carries Naloxone, the antidote so the dogs and people are safe.

Stebenne said in an interview with CTV News that, “dogs can really adapt and locate any scent, really. There’s really no limit to what they can smell.” And that is why we are so grateful for our working furry friends!