Arvada Police Officer Brian Laas has had some close calls with his canine partners over the years.
One was bitten by a snake. Another ingested a small amount of cocaine. His latest partner, a 2-year-old Dutch Shepherd named Rudy, has only been on the job for about six months. Laas worries where Rudy’s nose will take him.
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“Usually it’s the dogs that are locating these narcotics in vehicles and on persons,” Laas said.
“Because of the fact they use their nose so much, they’re trying to get closer and closer to it. That increases their risk of exposure.”
Laas is also the president of the Colorado Police Canine Association. Lately, he’s worried about Rudy and other police dogs being exposed to powerful opiates like fentanyl. Laas said it hasn’t happened in Colorado, but it has in other states.
“I believe one [police dog] has been killed and others have been exposed,” Laas said.
Thanks to a grant from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, Laas now carries Narcan, a nasal spray that can reverse an opioid overdose. The grant allows canine teams across the state to purchase the life-saving drug.
“We carry two doses for each of our dogs and they’re right there in the front seat so that if we need them, we’ve got them,” Laas said.
Laas said the nasal spray can buy a dog exposed to opiates precious time to get the vet.
“It should give them about 20 minutes to get [the dogs] to first aid,” he said.
It’s a necessary precaution Laas and other officers are gladly taking to keep their partners safe.
“We want to be able to save our partners’ lives,” Laas said.