VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – The state's opioid epidemic is affecting more than drug users, it's putting law enforcement and their K-9 partners at risk.
Narcan, a drug that can reverse the affects of opiod overdose, was originally purchased so deputies could administer it if they encountered someone who overdosed.
However, two incidents have changed how officers use Narcan. An Ohio police officer accidentally overdosed after coming in contact with Fentanyl during an arrest, and three K-9s overdosed in Broward County during a drug raid.
Narcan is now being used to keep deputies from overdosing and their dogs.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood says all of his k-9 handlers are equipped with Narcan.
"Not only did we have it for ourselves, we have it available to use on our k-9s," he said. "Because if our K-9s are out there and they sniff around a vehicle or in a home, and they come in contact with it, this will work on them as well."
News 6 has learned across the country there has been a greater push to keep K-9s safe.
Last year while raiding a suspected drug dealers home, three Broward County K-9s were rushed to veterinarians after ingesting a potentially deadly mix of heroin mixed with fentenyl. Fentenyl is an opioid more potent than heroin. That situation taught many departments there dogs had to be protected.
"It made perfect sense when some of the k-9 handlers brought it to our attention," Lt. Brian Henderson with the Volusia County Sherrif's office told News 6.
Henderson says for dogs, Narcan is administered the same way as humans, the nasal pump inserted into the nose and sprayed.
"Its a no brainer," Henderson said. "If its gonna save a human life, why not save one of our k-9 partners as well."
Now when put themselves in harms way to protect their community, their handlers will have a way to protect them.
"The dogs are extremly valuable partners for us," Chitwood said. "They do so many things, why shouldn't we protect them like we protect our two legged deputies?" he said.