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Fentanyl brings a ‘ruff’ time for police officer

This undated photo provided by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shows fake Oxycodone pills that are actually fentanyl that were seized and submitted to bureau crime labs. Street fentanyl is increasingly dangerous to users, with thousands of deaths in recent years blamed on the man-made opiate. But police say officers are at risk, too, because the drug can be inhaled if powder becomes airborne, or it can be absorbed through the skin. Fentanyl is sometimes placed in tablets of counterfeit prescription drugs, but also comes in the form of patches, powder and even sprays.
This undated photo provided by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shows fake Oxycodone pills that are actually fentanyl that were seized and submitted to bureau crime labs. Street fentanyl is increasingly dangerous to users, with thousands of deaths in recent years blamed on the man-made opiate. But police say officers are at risk, too, because the drug can be inhaled if powder becomes airborne, or it can be absorbed through the skin. Fentanyl is sometimes placed in tablets of counterfeit prescription drugs, but also comes in the form of patches, powder and even sprays. AP

He had sniffed fentanyl while on the job and became noticeably lethargic to his employers. Revived with naloxone, he went to work the next day.

It’s a story that seems to be an everyday occurrence lately.

But this time, it was a dog.

Last month, a German short-haired pointer named Primus, a currency K-9 with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, had a close call when he and two other K-9s were searching for money and drugs in a heroin dealer’s home.

According to NBC News, detectives didn’t see any immediate danger during a sweep of the house, so they sent in the dogs — Primus, another German short-haired pointer Finn and a yellow Labrador named Packer.

What detectives didn’t know was a harmful substance was right under their noses.

Primus is a typically energetic dog, according to Broward detective Andy Weiman, but after the job was done he wasn’t acting like himself.

“He was in kind of a sedated state,” Weiman told the Sun-Sentinel. “He had a lack of energy.”

His handler, Weiman told NBC News, said he wasn’t drinking and his toy wouldn’t stay in his mouth for too long.

The dogs had overdosed on fentanyl, a drug that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 more potent than morphine and has been seen increasingly to be used to cut heroin supplies or replace it altogether.

In August, a Bradenton man tried to avoid arrest and threw fentanyl over his shoulder, sending a puff of the drug right into the path of a detective who was chasing him. In September, 11 SWAT officers were hospitalized after being exposed to fentanyl.

In an email to the Sun-Sentinel, the sheriff’s office wrote that the fentanyl supplier had been arrested weeks before the incident. But as police continued to search the house as the dogs were rushed to the hospital, they found a bag of fentanyl.

While the other dogs were given IV fluids, Primus’ condition was so bad he needed to have a dose of naloxone, the opioid antidote used to counteract the effects of an overdose.

Now that Primus is doing better, the Broward Sheriff’s office has changed their protocol. Anytime there’s any suspicion of the fentanyl at a raid, they won’t send the dogs out.

Hannah Morse: 941-745-7055, @mannahhorse

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