Northwest News

Tacoma police dog dies after accidentally inhaling meth

Barney, a Tacoma police narcotics dog, died Wednesday night, a day after ingesting methamphetamine while searching the storage unit of a suspected drug trafficker.

The 11-year-old black Labrador mix joined the department in 2010. There are three dogs working for Tacoma police but Barney is the only one specifically trained to find drugs.

His handler, Officer Henry Betts, rushed him to a veterinarian about 6 p.m. Tuesday after the dog touched his nose to meth found at a Puyallup storage unit while officers served a search warrant.

Narcotics dogs are trained to alert their handlers to drugs by placing their nose on them. In this case, Barney accidentally inhaled residue from the substance.

He suffered seizures and his body temperature soared to 109 degrees.

Vets kept him overnight and said Barney was more responsive Wednesday morning but they would continue to monitor him for hyperthermia.

Pierce County prosecutors said they are not sure yet whether they will amend charges against the three defendants to include Barney’s death.

Samuel Tafolla Hernandez, 39, and Thomas Servantes Diaz, 34, pleaded not guilty to drug possession with intent to deliver. Servantes Diaz is also charged with unlawful gun possession.

Jose Mauricio Loranzo-Miranda, 38, pleaded not guilty to unlawful drug possession and was released on his own recognizance.

Bail was set at $1.5 million for both Tafolla Hernandez and Servantes Diaz.

The drug bust is one of the largest in the county in the last decade, prosecutors said.

It yielded 44 pounds of meth.

Tafolla Hernandez after an informant told them he was smuggling large amounts of the drug from the southwestern United States to Western Washington.

Detectives noted that Tafolla Hernandez did not have a job but owned homes in Fife and Kent, multiple vehicles and deposited several thousand dollars in a bank account.

Police followed Tafolla Hernandez and Servantes Diaz to the Puyallup storage unit where they allegedly stashed the meth. That’s where Barney ingested the meth.

Officers also searched a Fife house where the defendants lived and found a pistol and $225,000 in cash hidden behind a wall of diapers, according to charging papers.