P.G. RCMP Canines to Undergo Fentanyl Training
Prince George, B.C.- Three of the four narcotics sniffing Police Service dogs with the Prince George RCMP detachment will soon be undergoing training to detect fentanyl.
So far, the RCMP’s dog training centre in Innisfail Alberta, has trained 30 dogs to detect the deadly drug, and most of those trained dogs are stationed in B.C. “That number is changing every week” says Staff Sergeant Erik Stebenne a Senior Trainer at the Innisfail facility ” as we are training more and more dogs and dog handlers in the field with the RCMP throughout the country.”
He says the three drug sniffing dogs with the Prince George Detachment will be heading to Innisfail in May to be trained in fentanyl detection.
The training involves introducing the dogs to the fentanyl scent , by diluting the powerful drug in a liquid. That way the dogs won’t actually inhale the drug. But in the field, the drug is not diluted for safety, Staff Sergeant Stebenne says there are a few things that are done to ensure the dogs and their handlers are safe in the field ” One of which is, our dogs strictly provide passive indication, so when they locate narcotics, they don’t come in contact with any narcotic whether it be fentanyl or any type of narcotic out there. So upon locating the substance, our dogs provide a ‘sit’ confirmation so they don’t actually come in contact with the substance. ”
(At right, dog being trained on fentanyl detection, gives a ‘sit’ confirmation – image courtesy RCMP)
He says while there is still a chance the animal, or its handler, could come in contact with airborne particles which could pose a health risk, every dog handler in the field has naloxone nasal spray with them “That naloxone nasal spray is as effective on dogs as it is on humans. There is also no side effect to administering naloxone so if a dog is suspected of being exposed to fentanyl, there is nothing wrong with administering naloxone.”
The training has already paid off, with one major drug bust in B.C. last fall. “Through a traffic stop one of our dogs trained in fentanyl detection indicated the presence of narcotic and twelve thousand pills of fentanyl were located concealed and hidden in the vehicle.”
Staff Sergeant Stebenne says adding the fentanyl to the dog’s drug sniffing repertoire is not that difficult “As long as the dog is trained already in narcotic detection, so the mechanics are in place, the processes are in place to actually introduce a new odour can be , a lot of our dogs, after two or three searches, will be very familiar with the odour,. That odour will be imprinted into their brain and we’ll be able to locate the new introduced odour thereafter. So it really doesn’t take long.”
Eventually all narcotics sniffing dogs within the RCMP canine units across the country will be trained in fentanyl detection.