MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Several local police departments say the drug epidemic has gotten so intense they’ve had to take steps to protect their own K-9s from overdosing.
Police have been using an overdose-reversing drug for years on humans. Now police departments in Mechanicsburg and Lancaster City are equipping their four-legged officers with it to keep them safe while they protect the streets you live on.
Mechanicsburg Borough Police Ofc. Justin Shutt often spends more time with his K-9 partner Marc than his wife or friends.
“We have a very close relationship,” Shutt said.
ABC27 News saw K-9 Marc in action during his training last December.
“He can obviously find things that myself or another human officer may not recognize,” Shutt said.
Mechanicsburg Police Chief Margaret Myers got Marc to battle the heroin epidemic in the borough.
“He will alert,” Shutt said. “He will let me know and give me the general location of where he believes the narcotics are located.”
Shutt wants to keep the patrol and narcotics dog safe since he doesn’t search with his eyes but his nose.
Heroin can now be laced with fentanyl, which is about 100 times stronger.
“For example, heroin. It’s always changing, and we don’t know what the ingredients are, and now that it’s mixed with stuff like fentanyl, it’s so potent that you may not recognize there is an issue until it’s too late,” Shutt said.
Marc’s has own first aid kit. He not only has the typical stuff, such as gauze and a thermometer, but he also has Narcan to protect him from overdosing.
Shutt carries a nasal applicator in the kit.
“If he were to be sniffing something and he were to ingest it somehow just from doing a search and he were to have an overdose or reaction as a result of sniffing it, I can give him this Narcan to hopefully reverse any effects,” Shutt said.
Police see Narcan for K-9s becoming more common in the future.
“I believe that there will be Narcan available for all police dogs,” Shutt said. “I think it is going to be part of the equipment that we have for dogs, just as the same as we have leashes, harnesses, and other equipment.”
Protection4Paws donated the Narcan, and Girl Scouts in Chambersburg donated the first aid kit.