RCMP teach police dogs to find fentanyl
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.