The RCMP in British Columbia, Canada has begun training dogs to alert them to the presence of fentanyl, an illegal opioid drug one hundred times as powerful as morphine.
Fentanyl is causing problems for both drug abusers and law enforcement. Drug users are often unaware their purchases have been “cut” with fentanyl, leading to a spike in fatal overdoses across North America.
Police are having difficulty detecting fentanyl due to the synthetic opioid drug's potency – minuscule quantities have the same effects as naturally-sourced opioids such as heroin. The only ones benefiting from the resulting crisis are criminal drug dealers.
The RCMP has relied on trained sniffer dogs to identify banned drugs for some time now – currently there are 139 narcotics profile dog teams working across Canada.
Training these dogs to identify fentanyl is a priority, and RCMP trainers have had success using a liquid spray made from heavily diluted fentanyl. The spray allows trainers and dogs to work with the drug without being affected and/or injured by it.
The training is already paying off: the RCMP recently announced one of the three trained drug-sniffing dog teams has facilitated the interception of 12,000 fentanyl tablets being smuggled into British Columbia.
“I do believe the Canadian population is safer because of our new fentanyl dog training,” stated Inspector Akrum Ghadban, the officer in charge of the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre in Innisfail, Alberta. “By keeping more fentanyl off the street, we save Canadian lives.”