Clackamas K-9s Among State’s First Certified Fentanyl Detecting Dogs

Abbie and Coda, two Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office K-9s, are among the first law-enforcement dogs in Oregon certified to detect fentanyl.

The dogs were both certified by the California Narcotic Canine Association, or CNCA, last month.

Abbie, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd mix who has been working as a narcotics dog with the CCSO since April 2018, became the state’s first sheriff’s office K-9 to be fentanyl-certified on February 7.

Coda, an 8-year-old Dutch Shepherd working as a narcotics detection and patrol dog since 2016, followed a few days later, earning his certification on February 10. Both dogs were born in The Netherlands.

Earning the CNCA’s fentanyl certification required focused, long-term work with the animals, the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post. The initial training takes many hours of imprinting, teaching the dogs to recognize the fentanyl drug odor.

Fentanyl is often pressed into counterfeit Oxycodone/M30 pills and sold by drug dealers, according to the sheriff’s office.

Once the K-9s show consistent interest and recognize that fentanyl is a ‘target odor,’ trainers can build off that — putting the dogs in various environments with the confidence that they’ll be able to locate the fentanyl odor in the field.

Even after certification, K-9 handlers continue to train on a weekly basis to keep the animals prepared for deployments.

Law enforcement officers have seen a “dramatic increase” in fentanyl overdose calls in the past few years, the sheriff’s office said.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. A three-milligram dose of fentanyl — which amounts to just a few grains of the substance — is enough to kill an average adult male.

Fentanyl is often pressed into counterfeit Oxycodone/M30 pills and sold by drug dealers, the CCSO said.

The Clackamas County Interagency Task Force seized 333,365 pills containing fentanyl and 22.6 pounds of fentanyl powder in 2022 alone. That represents a significant increase over the previous year, when the group confiscated 76,249 pills and less than 1 pound of fentanyl powder.

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