More potent drugs put police dogs in danger

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Modern street drugs are so dangerous -- contact with just a trace could kill police---and the canine partners who help them search for drugs.

UA Police officer Rene Arriaga's K9 partner is a chocolate Labrador Retriever named Trigger.  

Trigger is friendlier and more approachable than your average police dog.  The regional Counter Narcotics Alliance is using Trigger to send a message about drug abuse and dangerous drugs. Part of that message is some of the drugs are so concentrated and so dangerous they are a danger to Trigger too.

Trigger's educated nose leads him through his world.  When he finds drugs, he signals his partner, and gets play time as his reward.

But the rise of ultra-powerful drugs like Fentanyl puts Trigger and his human partner in a special danger.

If there's a leaky package of drugs, or a tiny spill, inhaling just a trace of Fentanyl can put Trigger and Officer Arriaga in danger of dying---fast.

Officer Arriaga says, "We really don't know what's under the seats, what's in the ash tray, all that stuff, so we really try to keep him out of the car just so we don't let it happen.  And doing building searches, I make sure I find as much as I can and if there is some type of powder that's unknown I won't allow Trigger to search and we'll take the proper precautions, so we're safe."

Precautions for the officers and Trigger include a fast-acting antidote.  If an officer, or dog is exposed, the Narcan or Naloxone buy time while they're rushed into treatment.

Arizona DPS also recognizes sniffing up a grain of Fentanyl can be deadly for a dog.

Joke (his name's pronounced like YO-key) works with Trooper Casey Yartym.  He keeps an injection of Narcan ready because Joke has no way to know the danger of what he could find.

Trooper Casey Yartym: "As much as you can control your actions yourself, it's very hard to control an animal that's on the end of a six-foot lead,"

Trigger uses more than his nose to fight drug dangers.  He's using his natural charm too.

UA Police are part of a long list of agencies pulling together in the Counter Narcotics Alliance.  

Trigger is CNA's spokes-dog---complete with Twitter page--- spreading the message of how dangerous drugs can be---while he and his partner carefully sniff out the drugs before they're a threat on the streets.


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