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Southern California dog owner disputes police claim that puppy overdosed on fentanyl

Keri Blakinger, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Dog owner disputes Irvine police claim that puppy overdosed on fentanyl

LOS ANGELES — Days after Irvine police said they saved a pit bull puppy from a fentanyl overdose, the animal's owner says he has been cleared to take his dog back after a preliminary drug test on the pup came back negative.

There's one problem: The 29-year-old says he now has 14 days to pay the city more than $2,000 for the animal's care.

"Basically they are holding my puppy for ransom," Caleb Gibson, the dog's owner, told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm a college student on financial aid, so I don't have that kind of money to throw around."

Last week, Gibson and his girlfriend made headlines after police arrested the couple in a Walmart parking lot. Authorities said that the pair had drugs in their car and that Gibson's girlfriend feared Myla, their 8-week-old puppy, had somehow ingested fentanyl during the arrest. Police treated the dog with Narcan — a brand of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone — and said the animal "immediately began to recover."

Then they sent the case to the district attorney's office for suspected drug possession and animal cruelty, but so far no charges have been filed. On Tuesday, Sgt. Karie Davies maintained that the animal had overdosed even though they have not found proof of drugs in its system. She said that a sample of the dog's blood had been sent to a laboratory for further testing.


"We know it was fentanyl in the car, that's confirmed," Davies told the Times. "The dog was overdosing, so whether the tests come back negative or not is irrelevant."

She confirmed that Gibson owed the city money, adding, "If he does pay the fees, he would be the owner of the dog."

She later clarified that paying the fees will only allow Gibson to retain legal ownership of the animal but that he will not be allowed to have the dog back until all legal issues are resolved.

In recent years there have been several viral news reports of dogs — especially police dogs — allegedly overdosing on fentanyl, though it's not clear how often that actually happens. Experts say that canine overdoses are possible, but that dogs are far less sensitive to the drug than humans. And, just like with humans, drug experts say, it is not possible for animals to overdose simply from being exposed to the substance by touching or inhaling it, despite police sometimes making claims to the contrary.


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