SAVANNAH, Ga. – Every day the war on illegal drugs expands across the country, including seeking its teeth into the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.
The Savannah Chatham Metro Police Department is actively seeking how to keep its staff safe, including the four-legged members.
“The big fear is doing this kind of work is that him or I would be exposed especially with what’s going on with fentanyl right now and other opiotoids,” Cpl. Benjamin Ferrero said.
Ferrero and his canine partner, Dooly,have been working together in the K9 Unit since October 2015. During that time the team has worked to seize nearly 38 pounds of illegal drugs. For Dooly, his weapon isn’t a gun but his nose. Now with the increased presence and damaged caused by synthetic opioids, which can be absorbed through the skin, Ferrero fear for his dog’s safety.
“We’re talking something that’s the size of five or six grains of salt could easily kill me being my size and he’s about a third of my size,” Ferrero said.
Now, Ferrero says, SCMPD’s protocol for the K9 Unit has changed. Instead of the dogs going in first to investigate a possible drug bust, officers will now initially inspect the scene before allowing the dogs to do their job. This change of course, despite an increase use in dogs on the force, Ferrero says, is to protect the dogs from becoming another senseless causality in the war on drugs.
“This is my best friend,” Ferrero said of Dooly. “We spend all day every day together and, you know, I don’t want anything to happen to him.”
Ferrero told WSAV SCMPD is working to create an auto injector to help their dogs specifically recover from a possible overdose. This device would allow officers to administer a reversal drug to their dogs if they need it at a moment’s notice.