Protecting Reading's four-legged officers from overdose

Reading police will cary Naloxone for K9s

READING, Pa. - Just like their handlers, K9s are in the thick of crime every single day, including drug busts and narcotics operations.

But while their their superior sense of smell comes in handy, it can also be dangerous.

"The K9 is physically searching an area, a house, a vehicle for narcotics and they would come into contact with a package of narcotics that's open," said Captain Richard Tornielli with the Reading Police Department.

If police dogs like Nero somehow ingest the drugs, just like humans, they could get high and potentially overdose.

That's why the Reading Police Department is now carrying Naloxone, which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, specifically for K9s.

"The dog being smaller would be a lower dose than a human," Tornielli said. "But they also need to get to the vet because that dose only lasts for 60 to 90 minutes, and the effects of narcotics could last up to four hours."

Luckily, officers have never had to use Naloxone on any of the department's six K9s, but they store the antidote in first aid kits in their cars in case of emergency and keep their eyes open for signs of discomfort.

"The number one concern is depressed breathing, depressed respirations and then eventually respiratory arrest, so those are the signs that our K-9 handlers are looking for," Tornielli said.

Officers with the Exeter Township Police Department said they do not specifically carry Naloxone for their K9s, but would not hesitate to use it on the dogs if it was necessary.

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