It’s a scene almost every dog owner knows all too well – you’re out on a walk when your dog sees something lying on the ground and decides it’s time for a snack. Before you can think, one of your hands is jammed down their throat while the other is prying open their jaws. “What’s in your mouth?” you plead. “What are you eating?”
Usually it’s just something gross, but harmless. Not this time.
It was a fall morning in the quiet town of Hanover, Massachusetts. Three-month-old Labrador puppy Zoey was out on a walk with her owner, Peter Thibault, when she got into some garbage near a school bus stop. It looked like an empty pack of cigarettes, so Thibault snatched it away from her. “I was concerned about the tin foil in the liner because she might choke on it — you know how puppies are,” Thibault told the Boston Globe.
A few minutes later, Zoey was collapsed on the ground. Thibault was dumbfounded. “I had no idea what the issue was. She was just lying there,” he told the Eagle-Tribune. He took her inside and laid her on the ground, but she got worse.
“Her eyes were rolling back and her tongue was hanging out of her mouth,” he told the paper.
He called her veterinarian and took her to the emergency room. When he told the veterinarian what had happened with the cigarette box, the vet decided to give the puppy a dose of naloxone (also known as Narcan),WHDH reported. Nalaxone is a drug that quickly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose – but it must be applied quickly, the Mayo Clinic reported.
“(The vet) asked me to leave the room and within five minutes I was told to come back in. The dog was upright, alert, responsive, it was unbelievable,” Thibault told CBS Boston.
Dr. Krista Vernaleken, the medical director of the animal hospital, told the Boston Globe that it was fairly easy to determine what had happened.
“That a collapse happened in an otherwise healthy dog who was fine just five minutes before, and knowing the dog had chewed on something on the street, there was a limited number (of) things that could be,” she told the Boston Globe. “If not treated, she probably would have died.”
The case isn’t unheard of. Vernaleken told the Eagle-Tribune her hospital has treated at least two other cases of a pet ingesting an opioid just in the last year.
Other cases have been reported across the country as it struggles with the continuing crisis over opiate abuse, something President Donald Trump has now named an official national public health emergency. It’s been a problem for law enforcement animals too, including one case in Broward County, Fla., where three police dogs had to be given naloxone after they overdosed on opiates while sniffing around a suspect’s home, reported NBC News.
As for Zoey, Thibault told the Eagle-Tribune that she has made a full recovery after the scare, but the events have left Thibault shaken and concerned about the fact that the drugs were found right where children usually get on the school bus.
“It could have been one of the kids in the neighborhood and that would have been devastating. Little kids are out here all the time,” he told CBS Boston.