By Zachary Cormier – Black Press
RCMP across Canada will soon have a new tool in their belts in the fight against fentanyl.
In order to counter the presence of the dangerous opioid, the RCMP is currently training its Police Service Dogs to detect fentanyl.
“If you see the news, you’ll see every day there’s people dying from fentanyl and we took a proactive approach here. Our dogs were searching and they were coming across fentanyl and not recognizing it,” said Insp. Akrum Ghadban, the officer in charge of the RCMP’s Police Dog Service during a demonstration at the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre in Innisfail Feb. 3.
“I do believe the Canadian population is safer because of our new fentanyl dog training. By keeping more fentanyl off the street, we save Canadian lives.”
Fentanyl is an opioid about 100 times more toxic than morphine, which can cause serious harm or even death. According to Alberta Health Services, 193 fentanyl-related overdose deaths were reported in the province between January and September 2016.
Ghadban said the new training will allow police dogs to detect the substance quickly, which in turn will keep the dog, handler and public safe.
“Essentially we’re saving lives with this,” he said, noting that before receiving the training, dogs would continue to sniff and inhale the substance, putting them at risk.
In order to train their dogs to recognize the new scent, RCMP are using a diluted liquid form of fentanyl, allowing the canines to train with the real smell of the drug without any risk of actually inhaling the substance.
“The beauty of our training is there’s enough concentration in what we’re giving them in the training environment — they’ll be able to hit on it in the real world. So they won’t have to get anywhere as close as they are here before they detect the fentanyl,” Ghadban explained.
According to a press release from the RCMP, one of the three dog teams presently trained to detect fentanyl has already intercepted 12,000 tablets in B.C.
The training of all 139 RCMP narcotics-profile dogs and their handlers across Canada is expected to be completed by mid-July.