ELMORE COUNTY, Ala. – State prison officials say a K9 officer suffered a medical emergency during a contraband search of a prison late Thursday in Elmore County.
The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) dispatched three emergency response teams to Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore to search a housing dorm for contraband.
During the search, the corrections K9 named Jake alerted on a powdery substance. Within moments of detecting the substance, Jake became unresponsive and was immediately taken to the prison infirmary.
Prison officials evacuated the dorm and requested assistance from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Unit. The HazMat team tested and identified the substance as synthetic marijuana. The HazMat team continued the search without finding any more contraband and cleared the dorm early Friday morning.
Jake was taken from the Staton prison infirmary to an area veterinary hospital, and then transported to the Auburn University Veterinary Clinic.
Jake’s handler, Sergeant Quinton Jones, said his partner was performing his search when he suddenly became ill after finding the substance. Jones said the quick reaction by medical staff saved Jake’s life.
“After alerting on the substance, Jake lost his balance and became unresponsive,” said Jones. “I want to thank members of Staton’s medical staff, Leanne Smith and Juanita Peavy, for saving Jake’s life. Without their immediate response to Jake’s condition, he would not be alive today. They are heroes for saving his life.”
Smith and Peavy performed CPR on Jake in the prison courtyard and inserted an IV, which stabilized his condition. Smith remained with Jake and continued CPR until he arrived to the Auburn University Clinic Thursday night.
Smith and Peavy are both registered nurses on staff with ADOC’s healthcare provider, Wexford Health Sources. Smith joined the medical staff at Staton in January, and Peavy has been with the ADOC since September, 2018.
On Friday, the Auburn University Veterinary Clinic reported that Jake’s condition had improved. Clinical staff had replaced an oxygen tube with an oxygen mask to facilitate Jake’s breathing and initial reports indicate Jake had a serious allergic reaction to the synthetic marijuana.
Jones said Jake is a loyal member of the Alabama Department of Corrections K9 Bureau and has an impeccable record in counter-drug operations. After additional care, Jake is expected to fully recover and return to duty in a few weeks.
The ADOC has 11 K9 tracking and drug detection teams located throughout the Department. The ADOC K9 teams are used internally for tracking and drug detection operations as well as supporting local, county, state and federal law enforcement.