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Veterinarian, Brevard County sheriff warn Narcan is not cure all

K-9 Jake, exposed to amphetamine during drug search, required medical aid

Deputy Scott Stewart, Jake and Dr. Elizabeth Chosa outside the Courtenay Animal Hospital in Merritt Island on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (Image: James Gosselin/WKMG)

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – The veterinarian credited with saving the life of a Brevard County Sheriff K-9 when the dog was exposed to drugs at Port Canaveral wants pet owners to know the overdose reversal drug Narcan is not what saved the working dog's life. 

Jake, a 3-year-old golden retriever, was sniffing out drugs in an electric dance cruise passenger's luggage last week when he was exposed to an amphetamine and collapsed, officials with the Brevard County Sheriff's Office said. Jake was rushed to Courtenay Animal Hospital in Merritt Island where veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Chosa worked for two hours to get the K-9's heart rate and temperature stable.

Sheriff's Office officials first said that Jake was given the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan at the port when he collapsed, however he was never given the drug, which can be used on animals.

On Monday, Sheriff Wayne Ivey hosted a press conference to make sure people know that anyone who encounters potentially lethal drugs still needs medical care.

BCSO K-9 Jake outside the Courtenay Animal Hospital in Merritt Island on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (Image: James Gosselin/WKMG)

Jake's handler, Deputy Scott Stewart, called for Narcan over the radio but it was not administered, which likely caused the confusion, Stewart said.

"One of our messages is about the falseness of security that you can administer Narcan and it will be OK in a few hours," Ivey said, adding that while narcan is an amazing tool, the drug alone would not have been effective.

When Jake arrived at the hospital he was in shock, Chosa said. She gave him an intravenous dose of naloxone, the generic version of Narcan, because he appeared to be suffering from exposure to an amphetamine, not an opioid.

"We just want to make sure working dogs in the future are protected and get immediate veterinary care rather than just Narcan," Chosa said.

Ivey said he wouldn't want another law enforcement officer to not seek medical attention for their working dog because they mistakenly think the dog won't need it if it receives Narcan.

"If you do administer Narcan to a working dog and they seem to be showing signs of relief, still seek medical attention," said Chosa.

After the incident Sheriff's Office spokesperson Tod Goodyear told News 6 in an interview Jake was given Narcan at the port. On Monday, after the news conference Goodyear told News 6 he was first told the dog was given Narcan when he inhaled the methamphetamine, but later learned that the dog was not given any drugs until deputies rushed him to the vet.

Jake has already made a full recovery and is back at work.


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