Dogs have proven themselves to be helpful and dependable companions that a selected few are even trained to be part of law enforcement’s K9 unit. Dogs are subject to real risks when exposed to drugs, specifically opioids – whether it is the dog’s caretaker who is using the substance, or as a part of the dog’s duty as a working K9.
Today’s esteemed speaker is Martha Smith-Blackmore. She is an authority in the field of animal welfare, emergency veterinary medicine and animal cruelty with a special interest in working K9 safety. She is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Forensic Science Committee, an adjunct professor at the Tufts University, and a fellow at the Center for Animals and Public Policy in Massachusetts.
Martha will share her expertise on this course as she talks in detail about opioids, its abuse, how it impacts animals, and emergency response to opioid exposure. Points she tackled on this course include:
- The triple threat posed by opioid substances to animals exhibited through caretaker negligence, deliberate abuse, and accidental exposure to the substance.
- What opioids and opiates are and how the opium poppies’ sap is turned into potent drugs.
- A history of opiates and opioids, from its earliest uses as far back as 10,000 years ago to more recent records of its manufacturing and uses.
- A pivotal publication in the New England Journal of Medicine that skewed the public perception on the dangers of opioids.
- How drugs are manufactured and distributed currently.
- A look into the science that will help understand how opioids work and how it influences human behavior.
- Legitimate uses of opioids in veterinary medicine, and its more potent forms – Carfentanil and Sufentanil – specifically used for megafauna species.
The social impact of the opioid crisis on animals with case studies for each of the threat opioids pose to animals.
- Caretakers that become negligent to the animals’ needs when addicted to drugs/opioids.
- Deliberate harm to the animals as users seek drugs where the users resort to using their pets r even injure their pets to get prescription opioids.
- Accidental exposure of working K9s to opioids such that a snowflake amount is enough to kill a dog.
- Signs and symptoms of opioid exposure to look out for in working K9s and Primus’ opioid exposure story.
- Emergency response to accidental opioid exposure by reversing an overdose through Naloxone.
- Administering Naloxone to dogs as a first aid measure in opioid exposure.
- The full emergency response plan that involves having a protocol, knowing where emergency veterinary providers are, and training on respiration to dogs.
Martha shed light on the audiences’ concerns during the Q&A on:
- The link of dog size to exposure risk
- The safety of administering naloxone
- Getting the correct respirator mask for the officers’/K9 handlers’ emergency kit
- Tracking animal and pet deaths due to opioid exposure
- Field test to confirm canine exposure
- The time it takes for dogs to manifest the symptoms upon exposure