Doctors provide drug antidote for Marlboro K-9 unit

MARLBORO – The Marlboro Police Department has acquired a medication that could save the life of a K-9 officer if the police dog is accidentally exposed to an opioid.

Police said Officer Donna Gonzalez, who is the handler of K-9 Saber, has obtained the drug Naloxone, which is also known as Narcan, and will use it to provide immediate care if Saber is accidentally exposed to an opioid such as heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil or similar narcotics.

Narcan can reverse the effects of an opioid and has been used to counteract drug overdoses in humans.

Police said opioids pose a great risk to canines that conduct searches for suspected controlled dangerous substances. Small amounts of a drug can be dangerous and life-threatening to police canines and their handlers.

According to a press release, Gonzalez was able to obtain training and special equipment for Saber that was provided by Dr. Steven Tepper and Dr. Deborah Breitstein of Animal Health Care of Marlboro.

The veterinarians provided Gonzalez with training in the administration of Narcan to Saber and an oxygen mask and bag specially fitted for dogs in case Saber is exposed to potentially dangerous substances.

“The Marlboro Police Department frequently receives reports of the dangers of accidental opioid exposures to police officers throughout the country and other agencies in New Jersey have recently identified their police canines as potentially being at risk,” police administrators said. “With the recent acquisition of the special oxygen mask and training, Marlboro’s police canines will be better equipped to serve the residents of Marlboro.”

“We at Animal Health Care of Marlboro have been supporting our police force’s K-9 unit since its inception and feel that our K-9 officers protect the community in special and important ways that make us proud to be part of their health care team … after all, they are helping to keep our community safe and secure; they take such good care of us. We are proud to provide emergent, urgent and well care veterinary services to our K-9 officers … it is just part of who we are and why we do what we do every day,” Breitstein said.