RCMP teach po­lice dogs to find fen­tanyl

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

INNISFAIL, ALTA. — A work­shop at the RCMP’s dog train­ing cen­tre in Al­berta has at­tracted of­fi­cers and an­i­mals from po­lice forces across the con­ti­nent ea­ger to see the cen­tre’s pi­o­neer­ing work tack­ling the scourge of fen­tanyl.

“No agency in the world was con­duct­ing fen­tanyl de­tec­tion for po­lice dog ser­vice,” ex­plained Staff Sgt. Eric Stebenne, se­nior trainer at the RCMP po­lice dog ser­vice train­ing cen­tre in Innisfail, Alta.

“We re­ally got in­ter­ested in find­ing a safe way to in­tro­duce fen­tanyl de­tec­tion as part of our pro­gram.”

Close to three dozen peo­ple from Cana­dian, U.S. and Mex­i­can law en­force­ment agen­cies, some bring­ing their own dogs, com­pleted the two-day work­shop last week to learn RCMP meth­ods for train­ing dogs to search for fen­tanyl.

Since fen­tanyl can be deadly if in­haled, the RCMP needed to cre­ate a di­luted, liq­uid form so the dogs could safely learn the scent with­out the risk of in­hal­ing air­borne par­ti­cles.

The train­ing pro­gram is so new, Stebenne said the pilot pro­gram that trained the first three dogs only hap­pened last year. But he said it saw suc­cess quickly, with one of the dogs in­ter­cept­ing 12,000 fen­tanyl pills in Bri­tish Columbia.

In Fe­bru­ary, the RCMP an­nounced it would train all 139 RCMP nar­cotics dog teams across Canada to de­tect fen­tanyl and word of their work spread.

“My of­fice started get­ting phone calls from all around the world ... in­ter­ested in learn­ing from what we had done as it re­lates to fen­tanyl de­tec­tion,” Stebenne said.

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