Crime

Tacoma police dog recovering after accidentally inhaling meth

A Tacoma police dog was recovering Wednesday after accidentally inhaling methamphetamine while on a narcotics call that yielded 44 pounds of the drug.

Barney, a black Labrador mix, suffered seizures and his body temperature shot up to 109 degrees after he came into contact with the drugs about 6 p.m. Tuesday at a Puyallup storage unit.

On Tuesday, Pierce County prosecutors charged three people in connection with the meth. The bust was one of the county’s largest in the past decade, prosecutors said.

Samuel Tafolla Hernandez, 39, and Thomas Servantes Diaz, 34, are accused of drug possession with intent to deliver. Servantes Diaz also is charged with unlawful gun possession.

Jose Mauricio Loranzo-Miranda, 38, is charged with unlawful drug possession.

The men were scheduled to be arraigned Thursday (March 26.)

Prosecutors allege that Tafolla Hernandez had the meth brought to Western Washington from the southwestern United States, and police followed him and Servantes Diaz to the storage unit where officers found the drug.

Officers also searched the Fife home where the suspects live and found $225,000 hidden in a bookcase behind diapers, prosecutors said.

Investigators brought along Barney, the department’s sole narcotics dog, when they went to serve the search warrant in Puyallup, and handler Henry Betts noticed drug residue on the dog’s nose from the search, police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.

Betts rushed the dog to BluePearl Veterinary Hospital, where veterinarians were “cautiously optimistic” he would have a full recovery, Dr. Kobi Johnson said.

K-9s typically alert their handlers to the presence of drugs by placing their noses on the substance. In this case, Barney accidentally inhaled some of it, Cool said.

On Wednesday, the dog was more alert and responsive, but vets were still monitoring him for hyperthermia.

The department has two other K-9 dogs, Sam and Oscar.

Barney, 11, joined the Police Department in 2010.

“He’s a phenomenal dog,” Betts said. “Really just incredible.”

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

stacia.glenn@thenewstribune.com

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