Police work to keep K9s safe from accidental overdose

Mahoning County Sheriff's deputies are in the habit of doing walk-throughs before bringing the animals in

K9 Officer Mercy, Mahoning County Sheriff's Office


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When it comes to the heroin crisis, animals can be impacted, too. That’s why officers are taking extra precautions to protect police dogs from exposure.

Take, for instance, Mercy. She’s a narcotics detection K9 with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.

When someone is suspected of carrying or transporting narcotics, Mercy is called in. But before she gets to work, her partner — Sgt. Laurence McLaughlin — checks things out for her first.

“We do a physical check where we actually walk around the vehicle, walk through a home or a building where we are going to deploy the dog, and look for anything that’s an obvious danger for the animal,” McLaughlin said.

There’s lots of danger out there.

In North Ridgeville, Ohio, a Yorkie-mix dog was treated with the opioid-reversal drug naloxone after a veterinarian told police that it appeared to have overdosed on heroin. According to WJW Fox in Cleveland, police say they discovered drug paraphernalia last week at the house.

Dr. Richard Nokes, with Angels for Animals, said these extremely potent drugs could be lethal to animals. He said just one or two grains of fentanyl could kill a person or an animal, but that the overdose reversal drug naloxone works on animals, too.

“Sometimes it takes more than one administration, just like for some people when they get four of five treatments before they’ll wake back up.”

Mercy and Sgt. McLaughlin are in a dangerous line of work. For them, staying safe is all about being extra cautious and looking out for one another.

“At the end of the day, we all want to go home and we want our partners to come home with us,” McLaughlin said.

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