Synthetic opioid having deadly consequences on K-9 units

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Some law enforcement agencies call fentanyl an "unprecedented threat" and it’s having an impact on K-9 officers. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Some law enforcement agencies call fentanyl an "unprecedented threat" and it’s having an impact on K-9 officers. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
In order to keep them safe, training of the MCSO K-9 dogs has changed over the past few years. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) In order to keep them safe, training of the MCSO K-9 dogs has changed over the past few years. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
K-9s take a more passive approach when alerting their handlers. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) K-9s take a more passive approach when alerting their handlers. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A powerful and dangerous drug could harm your kids and those sworn to protect us.

Some law enforcement agencies call fentanyl an "unprecedented threat" and it’s having an impact on K-9 officers. 

"You have not just a partner but it's almost your best friend," said Det. Doug Matteson of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

The fight against drugs is getting harder by the day as more synthetic ones hit the market and access to them gets easier.

"Fentanyl is a very dangerous synthetic opioid. People are familiar with heroin and prescription drugs. This falls in that same family," said Stephanie Siete of Community Bridges.

If fentanyl is loose in a home or car, it can spread out where a dog can absorb it through its pads. The dog could sniff it up through his jowls.

"It's pure poison for anyone in a small dose that inhales it, pet or person," said Siete.

In order to keep them safe, training of the MCSO K-9 dogs has changed over the past few years.

"They would scratch at things, lung and attack. You would never know what they would do," said Matteson.

Now it's a passive approach.

"When they alert on something, they key their handler with a passive motion of sitting down and kind of looking at what they detected," said Matteson.

With safety top of mind, the deputies also sweep the scene first before ever letting the K-9 assist.

"If it's too dangerous for a human, we would never put that animal at risk," said Matteson.

We did reach out to our local police departments as well and told us they follow the same protocol as MCSO. Officers do security checks and visually check for powders and any other items that could potentially harm the K-9s prior to having the K-9s conduct their searches.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Ashlee DeMartino
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