Officers have new tool to protect police dogs from deadly fentanyl

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Franklin County Sheriff's Deputies have a new tool to protect K9 officers who could come into contact with potentially deadly drugs like fentanyl. It's a powerful painkiller that is often mixed with street heroin but 50 times more potent.

"It's really changed the way we have to do business," said Sgt. Aaron Heflin who heads up the sheriff's K9 unit. "Even just getting a tiny bit of it on your skin, or inhaling some of it, can kill you."

Heflin said human deputies have the option of taking precautions, like wearing gloves and a mask, when searching drug houses, but Heflin said there are little K9 handlers can do to prevent their dogs from coming into contact with the dangerous drug.

"The dogs are trained to use their noses to sniff drugs, and that very thing that makes them a great tool, is what could ultimately kill them if we're not careful," said Heflin.

Many K9 handlers are now carrying naloxone. It's the exact same drug that reverses overdoses in humans, but it can also save the life of a dog that's come into contact with fentanyl.

A simple nasal spray up the snout can rescue a dog showing symptoms of overdose including sleepiness, lethargy, and labored breathing.

"So far we've been lucky and hopefully it stays that way," said Heflin.