The RCMP's Police Dog Service Training Centre (PDSTC) was honoured today at the 2017 Homeland Security Awards ceremony in New York for its innovation in the fight against illicit fentanyl.
Recognized for developing a technique that safely trains dogs to detect the powerful opioid, the PDSTC earned a platinum award. The ceremony was organized by American Security Today, a digital publication that profiled the technique after the RCMP announced it would train all of its 139 narcotics-profile dogs across Canada.
RCMP specialists transform pure fentanyl into a diluted liquid form, which allows the dogs to train with the scent of real fentanyl without risk of inhaling it, rendering the technique safe and efficient and making the dogs extremely productive in the field. During police operations, the dogs can detect fentanyl from a safe distance and dog handlers are trained to administer an antidote to canines who may inadvertently come into contact with the drug.
"Illegal opioids are a major concern around the world as a public safety issue. Last year, in Canada alone, law enforcement seized about 18 kilograms of fentanyl, which is significant considering just a few grains can cause an overdose," said Inspector Akrum Ghadban, the Officer in Charge of the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre. "I'm very proud of our work as a team in developing this training program and sharing it with other law enforcement partners. It is an honour to accept this award on behalf of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police."
In February, the RCMP held a two-day workshop on canine fentanyl detection, hosting 35 participants from across North America at the PDSTC, located in Innisfail, Alberta.
Fentanyl is an opioid approximately 100 times more potent than morphine which can cause serious harm, including death, when used improperly. It has been distributed illegally in many forms, including in tablets made to look like prescription drugs.