It was a routine traffic stop.
But for RCMP Corporal Clayton Catellier and K9 officer Doodz it turned out to be a huge bust.
The had pulled a car over for speeding in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, but the partners detected something more than a lead foot. Doodz detected fentanyl, a scourge that is racing across Canada with deadly consequences.
Doodz became the first police dog in the country to pick up the scent after being trained as a new weapon in the war on fentanyl.
“Once the driver is detained, I can run my dog outside of the vehicle,” Cpl. Catellier said in a statement. “Doodz was deployed and she alerted on the presence of narcotics right in the area the fentanyl was found. There were 12,000 pills in six different bags.”
The drug is incredibly dangerous. If inhaled, absorbed or ingested, it can kill.
Nobody was injured in this roadside bust.
It’s an incredible feat.
The RCMP’s Police Dog Service Training Centre (PDSTC) in Innisfail, Alta., only recently began training the canine cops to recognize as the drug became a major public safety issue.
Back in 2015, Staff Sergeant Eric Stebenne, the head trainer at the facility, set out to train the animals and check if any police dog services in Canada – or anywhere – were doing dog-focused fentanyl detection.
“It wasn’t being done,” Staff Sgt. Stebenne explained.
A training regime was developed to safely teach dogs and their handlers.
“Fentanyl in its powder form creates a big issue because we have airborne particles,”he added. “Airborne particles can be inhaled by our dogs and police officers and could be fatal.”
All dog handlers have been carrying naloxone, an antidote for opioids.
The facility said it would have all 139 RCMP narcotics profile dog teams across Canada trained by mid-month.
“Protecting our dogs is paramount — the dogs and the handlers,” Inspector Akrum Ghadban, the officer in charge of the PDSTC, noted. “We see that as job number one here.”
Soon after Doodz’s groundbreaking bust, dogs and their handlers from all over North America trekked to Innisfail to learn about tracking fentanyl.
Law enforcement from agencies ranging border services to jails and city police forces attended.
11 North American law enforcement agencies are learning RCMP police dog training practices to stop illegal fentanyl. https://t.co/QRHvTJE3AR pic.twitter.com/wzs3dHYzoj
— RCMP Depot Division (@RCMPDepot) June 28, 2017
“This is the first meeting of its kind, where law enforcement agencies from neighbouring countries gather to learn the same scientific methods and dog training techniques in an effort to stop the spread of illegal fentanyl,” Mounties said.