ANIMAL WATCH - With the increased use of fentanyl by the general public and, especially, young adults, police officers are rapidly becoming primary responders to crimes against animals involved in the “sharing” of drugs as demonstrated last week in Pit Bull Puppy Saved by Police after Fentanyl Exposure—Grave U.S. Warnings for Humans and Dogs.
But, out of this bleak world there have also come headline stories of first responders silently becoming heroes to the furry victims they saved—from drugs and otherwise—by taking them into their own hearts and lives forever.
NEW JERSEY POLICE LT. ADOPTS DOG HE SAVED AND ITS BUDDY
A tiny dog was saved by Narcan after owners allegedly exposed the dog to an overdose of heroin in November 2022.
As a result, on June 22, 2023, NBC (Philadelphia) announced the indictment by an Atlantic County, NJ, grand jury of Clinton Danks, 58, and Kristina Meyers, 37, charged with third-degree possession of heroin, and third degree animal cruelty for exposing their dog to the drug.
ABC News reported that, “on November 17, 2022, police responded to a 911 call about a dog in distress at a Walmart in Hammonton, New Jersey, and found a Yorkshire Terrier that appeared to be unresponsive and unable to breathe.”
A Good Samaritan bystander was attempting to help the dog, which was determined to have been “overdosed due to heroin from its owners, Danks and Meyers,” officials said.
Police gave the dog a pediatric dose of Narcan, which revived and stabilized the dog. Danks and Meyers were arrested at the scene, police said.
But, NBC adds, “this story has an even better ending.”
“The very next day, Lieutenant Sean Grasso, whose department got the 911 call, called the Atlantic County Animal Shelter and adopted the dog.”
“I said listen, we don’t get a lot of victories in the opioid crisis, this one’s personal to us,” Grasso told NBC10 reporter Frances Wang.
He also stated that he named the dog “OD” to serve as a reminder of how strong she is and what she survived.
Lt. Grasso and his loving family “also adopted another older, visually impaired dog that was with OD when she was found.”
The NBC report also included that Lt. Grasso has previously rescued 19 cats and is the organizer of a local walk for autism in honor of his son.” He also encouraged others, stating: “When you get a chance to help and you get a chance to see a victory, it’s awesome!”
Tiny Poodle Found Next to Owner on Street—Both Unconscious from Drug Overdose
The Philadelphia Police Department responded on April 22, 2023, to a scene in Kensington, where a human victim and small white poodle were both unconscious beside each other from an apparent ingestion of a drug, which was not immediately identified.
The officers allowed a responsible Good Samaritan to remove the tiny poodle in order to rush the dog to the nearest veterinary hospital after notifying the SPCA. At the Blue Pearl Emergency Clinic a veterinarian administered Narcan, a life-saving opiate reversal treatment, and “Toodles immediately became responsive,” she said.
A representative of the Pennsylvania SPCA told CNN that the dog likely ingested fentanyl, but it is unclear how the dog got the drug. (No further information on the man who was with Toodles was provided.)
Toodles was transferred from the hospital to the shelter later on Monday, according to the post. He received treatment via an IV and was “monitored closely to ensure that the drugs were working their way out of his system.”
“He is just about the sweetest pup around,” the SPCA added. “Everyone loves him. But our hearts still break for all that he has been through.”
The SPCA told CNN via email that Toodles has already received multiple adoption applications and will hopefully have a forever home in the coming days.
The tiny poodle has made a full recovery since the overdose, according to the Philadelphia SPCA.
Michigan Firefighters Rescue Puppy from Fentanyl Overdose
(Coldwater Firefighters Local 2555)
On November 22, 2022, firefighters in Coldwater, Michigan, responded to a request for help at their station, when owners brought in a small puppy “who was overdosing on fentanyl by giving it Narcan,” according to a KIRO7 News.
A Facebook post by Coldwater Firefighters Local 2555 stated, “firefighters were able to administer two doses of Naloxone, also known as Narcan, which helps reverse the effects of opioids.”
“This isn’t a call we normally expect! The puppy’s name is Whip and she got into a fentanyl patch and overdosed,” said a spokesman.
He also explained that “the fentanyl is used by a family member who has severe pain from cancer,” which is why the family immediately relied on the fire department for help.
“She [Whip] will be monitored until her follow up with her veterinarian,” the Fire Department states.
According to Wikipedia, Coldwater is a city in and county seat of Branch County in the U.S. state of Michigan and covers a total area of 9.99 miles. The city had a population of 13,822 at the 2020 census.
OHIO POLICE OFFICER BRINGS NARCAN TO VETERINARY OFFICE TO SAVE DOG’S LIFE
This incident occurred in 2018, before Narcan was approved for general use, and was apparently only issued to medical doctors and law enforcement agencies. But this incident demonstrates the deep-rooted desire of many police officers to save animals’ lives and learn about their behavior and reactions.
(See Narcan Development Chart–Only recently available for public purchase.)
An Ohio police officer responded to a request by a veterinarian to bring Narcan to the Austintown Veterinary Clinic to “save a dog having an opioid emergency,” WFMJ reported on October 9, 2018.”
The report states that, “A Doberman Pinscher dog named Trooper had a severe reaction to medication he received before surgery,” WFMJ reported, “The animal began to have an opioid emergency.”
"It doesn't happen very often at all, but just like a person they can have a bad reaction to any kind of medication," Veterinarian Cheryl Whitfield told WFMJ.
Austintown Police Sgt. Rick John said he received a call from the clinic, asking, “Can we give them some Narcan and does it work on dogs?”
The officer immediately drove to a pharmacy and obtained Narcan, and took it to the vet.
“I had to watch. I was intrigued by it. And I wasn’t 100 percent certain it would work on a dog,” Sgt. John told WFMJ.
Although Narcan is a spray, Whitfield used an IV to make the medicine work faster, according to the report.
“I took a needle and syringe … and drew it into syringe and gave it right in the vein, and he was up within seconds to minutes afterwards,” Whitfield told WFMJ.
The dog responded positively and continued to improve, the station later reported.
HAPPY ENDING – NYPD OFFICER ADOPTS DOG LOCKED IN HOT CAR
“Officer Aruna Maharaj, an officer with the NYPD's 19th Precinct adopted the dog she helped save from a hot car last month,” ABC News Live reported on July 28, 2022. The dog was found in a hot car two days before.
Nearby residents noticed the dog locked in the car on 88th Street near Third Avenue for over two hours on June 18 and called 911, police said.
Passersbys said the dog looked distressed inside the vehicle, according to police, who later reported that a 26-year-old man was charged with animal cruelty.
NYPD officers broke open one of the car’s windows to rescue the dog and Officer Maharaj helped take it out of the vehicle before it was transported to veterinary care.
The dog was then taken in by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [which is customary in order to establish abandonment or obtain a voluntary release to transfer ownership].
Maharaj then adopted the dog from their care.
“This pup will never be neglected again!” the 19th Precinct posted!
It is reassuring to know that despite all of the recent negative publicity about the police, and the growing epidemic of fentanyl use, police officers and firefighters share our love for animals and desire to protect them.
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former Los Angeles City employee, an animal activist and a contributor to CityWatch.)