PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — A law enforcement dog performing a search during an electronic music festival cruise was overcome by a drug and given Narcan at an animal hospital before being saved by other means.
- Annual Holy Ship! electronic music cruise sails out of Port Canaveral
- Dog that searched passengers started showing signs of illness
- Narcan administered to Jake, though other means were used to save him
- Man from Missoula, Montana arrested, charged with drug possession
During security screening at Terminal 10 on Wednesday, a Brevard Sheriff's Office K-9 dog alerted on a bag, detecting the presence of some type of drug.
But then the dog, named Jake, also alerted on a passenger, 33-year-old Leslie Bennett of Missoula, Montana.
Investigators say Bennett also had pills concealed in his underwear that they determined was ecstasy, a recreational drug that makes users feel euphoric.
"A short time after that, the dog started showing some symptoms that it may have ingested something that caused a medical event for the dog," says Tod Goodyear of the Sheriff's Office.
Originally, it was thought that Jake was given deputy-issued Narcan, which counters the effects of drugs such as methamphetamine. But the ecstasy residue is not an opioid-category drug.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey said days later that Narcan wasn't given to Jake at the scene. The dog was rushed to Courtenay Animal Hospital, where he was reportedly near death. He was given Narcan there but also treated by other means and saved.
"Even if Narcan appears to resolve physical signs of a toxicity, it's really important to seek emergency care," Courtenay veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Chosa said. "If (Deputy handler) Scott (Stewart) and the other K-9 guys hadn't acted so quickly and gotten Jake here right away, there may have been a very different outcome."
Bennett is facing five charges of possession of a controlled substance and is being held on $26,000 bond. Investigators say that at this point, he won't face any charges related to the dog's illness.
Pre-cruise drug arrests are down this year compared with last, when some 30 people were busted, authorities said.
The Holy Ship! website warns passengers that the use of illegal drugs is prohibited, and every person and each piece of luggage will be inspected by trained dogs.
CLARIFICATION: Because of incorrect information provided to Spectrum News 13, an earlier version of this article said Narcan was administered to the dog at the scene. The Sheriff's Office later clarified that Narcan was administered at the animal hospital — but other methods ultimately saved Jake when personnel realized it was ecstasy and not an opioid that sickened the dog. The article and headline have been changed to reflect the new information. (January 14, 2019)