Save Police K9s from Preventable Drug Deaths

Target: Robert W. Patterson, Acting Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration

Goal: Protect police dogs from the dangers of opioid overdoses.

They serve on the front lines of law enforcement every day, sometimes risking their lives to ensure public safety. And in increasingly alarming numbers, they are becoming the untold victims of the opioid epidemic. For the three police dogs who overdosed on the drug fentanyl while searching a suspected drug den (and for countless other canines employed in drug-sniffing duties), a job they never had a choice in taking could mean the end of their lives.

Some opioids are up to 50 times more potent than heroin, and even trace exposure to these toxic substances can kill a human being. Police officers have lost their lives in such tragedies. Police dogs –who are only reliant upon their sense of smell and their sniffing capabilities in locating drugs — face an even more imminent threat. The equivalent of a couple of grains can overdose a vulnerable dog. At the least, affected canines can experience disorientation, rapid panting, vomiting, breathing distress, and high levels of agitation. At the tragic worst, the shock to their systems will claim their lives.

Law enforcement departments have begun to take preventive measures for their canine colleagues by carrying a version of naloxone, a substance used to combat and reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Yet no national dictate exists that would help maintain maximum protection for at-risk police dogs. Efforts at addressing this crisis also suffer because no nationwide database is available to report these incidents.

Sign this petition to demand leaders take a much harder look at concrete initiatives that will shield the animals who shield American citizens from harm.


Dear Administrator Patterson,

Every day, professionals under your guidance put their lives at risk across the nation. Too many have become unwitting victims of the opioid crisis. For the police dogs that law enforcement officials view as allies rather than tools, these dangers are tenfold. The DEA has issued warnings about the threat to these animals. Now we ask you to be a stronger, more proactive ally….their ally.

Veterinary professionals who witness the impacts of canine overdoses firsthand have lobbied intensively for a national database that would preserve an accurate record of just how pervasive this epidemic has become. Currently, experts believe that a mere ten percent of injuries or deaths of police dogs due to opioid exposure are cataloged. The problem must be identified before it can be targeted.

Further, anecdotes from agencies nationwide demonstrate that perhaps the most effective way to target this problem rests in equipping drug task forces with a canine naloxone that will fight the devastating symptoms and potentially tragic effects of an accidental overdose. As a vital branch of the U.S. Department of Justice, please use your influence to advocate for cross-country distribution of this life-saving substance to law enforcement agencies.

These animals can and do give their lives to protect us. We should honor them by ensuring their welfare and livelihood


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Michael Pereckas

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  2. Please STOP putting K-9’s Lives in Danger! Use Something that Doesn’t Live and Breath!

  3. Barton Dixon says:

    Help protect the dogs in law enforcement that are helping to protect us.

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