Washington rescue dogs graduate as skilled K9s

Apr 15, 2024, 5:33 PM | Updated: 6:53 pm

Jails in Washington are getting some four-legged help rooting out fentanyl and other potentially deadly drugs. Five K9 teams recently graduated from a Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) program where they learned to sniff out drugs.

Three of the dogs are certified to detect fentanyl.

“This is a small but mighty part of a very, very large effort to combat fentanyl,” DOC Deputy Secretary Sean Murphy said.

In addition, corrections facilities have access to Narcan, which can reverse opioid overdoses, scanners to detect contraband and expanded treatment for inmates who have substance use disorders.

The DOC said drugs, behind bars, have always been a problem, but fentanyl — with its addictiveness and danger — is a particular concern.

“Most jails and prisons are reporting overdoses biweekly or weekly,” K9 Program Manager Terry Hartman said.

His dogs, which will be deployed around the state, will be working to detect drugs before they can do harm.

His recent K9 graduates — Harley, Timber, Luka, Raiden and Rozzo — are a determined group.

Washington K9s are chosen by ‘single-mindedness’

They were not necessarily selected because of their breed but their single-mindedness, Hartman explained.

“It’s the dog who won’t give you the ball back. It’s the dog who won’t stop looking for the ball when you throw it, the really obsessive type behavior,” he said.

More dog news: Stolen French bulldogs return to Kirkland owner after harrowing journey

Hartman said those types of dogs often end up in shelters.

“They don’t make particularly good pets at that point,” he explained.

However, “Once they get through the training and they get a job and we do things with them, then they usually go on to have a really healthy normal life,” he continued.

Hartman said the dogs not only work with their human partners but go home and live with them and their families. They are rescued dogs who will now work to rescue people from the ravages of drugs.

Heather Bosch is an award-winning anchor and reporter on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of her stories here. Follow Heather on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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