by Don Ford

DUBLIN (KPIX 5) — There’s a push to protect drug-sniffing K-9 units from deadly opioids.

East Bay officers want to start carrying Narcan, a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose, for their dogs.

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It’s the first program of its kind in California.

Erin Troy, the advising veterinarian for Alameda County’s K-9 unit, explained how a K-9 unit could become exposed to drugs.

“They search a house, trying to apprehend a suspect, the drugs are readily available, they’re on the counter, they’re on the floor and they can walk through them. They can inhale them very quickly,” Troy said.

Nearly a dozen dogs across the nation have been affected by Fentanyl powder during drug searches.

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The non-profit organization Cover Your K-9 is supplying special Narcan nasal spray kits to help protect Alameda Sheriff K-9s.

Troy said, “With the administration of Narcan…put into an intra-nasal spray so it can easily be inserted into the nose, depressed and inhaled…and they absorb it instantly through the same mucus membranes that they absorbed the fentanyl through and the antidote goes straight to the brain.”

This new antidote isn’t just for dogs.

Alameda County Sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Ray Kelley said, “We are also going to be issuing this drug to our deputies so that we can also treat ourselves and members of the public should we come across an overdose incident related to an opioid.”

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This weekend there’s a giant fundraiser involving pet food stores across the state, hoping to expand this program to additional K-9 units.