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Vials of Naloxone, used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, are displayed at a popup safe injection site was setup near a firehall in the Downtown Eastside. A Victoria-area veterinarian who used naloxone to revive a puppy that ate some sort of opioid said she fears word of the successful treatment could put her clinic at risk.DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

A Victoria-area veterinarian who used naloxone to revive a puppy that ate some sort of opioid said she fears word of the successful treatment could put her clinic at risk.

Helen Rae was at the clinic in Saanich on Dec. 16 when the owner of a barely six-month-old puppy brought in the wobbly pet because it had eaten something during a walk in a nearby park.

Over the next hour, the young pug-cross became almost comatose and showed symptoms of a narcotic overdose, so Ms. Rae decided to administer naloxone.

"We gave her a very, very low dose, because we weren't really sure that's what is was, but there wasn't really anything to lose by trying a very low dose," she said.

The effects were dramatic.

"Within about five minutes she went from having her chin on the table and being sort of a limp dishrag to being responsive and holding her head up and looking around."

It was only the second time in 18 years that Ms. Rae had seen an opioid overdose in an animal and she said there's no way of knowing which of the many types of opioid, from oxycontin to morphine to fentanyl, could have been involved.

But the link between naloxone and the countrywide fentanyl crisis led to immediate interest, and Ms. Rae said it has had worrying results.

"We have already had phone calls from some sketchy sounding people after hearing this news, we're worried that our clinic is being scoped out," she said.

"We do not carry fentanyl or any other drugs that have street value in the clinic."

Concerns among pet owners that their dogs may be at risk of an opioid overdose should also be minimized, Ms. Rae added.

"I wouldn't want people to think that they shouldn't be walking their dogs or have to be paranoid. It's a matter of common sense. This is taking an infinitely small risk and raising it to a slightly higher, but still very, very small risk," Ms. Rae said.

Overdose deaths in B.C. are at an all time high with 60% of cases involving fentanyl. We look at how that compares to other causes of deaths on a national scale

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