It’s like Sophie’s Choice for stoner dog-lovers: keep weed illegal or kill hundreds of innocent dogs? The question was posed after several news outlets ran a story about the prospect of drug sniffing dogs in Illinois going out of work if the state legalizes recreational cannabis. As per The Week, Chad Larned, director of the Maron County K-9 Training Academy, said that drug-sniffing dogs receive such specialized training that, if their weed-detecting snouts were no longer needed, a new use for them would have to be found. Either they would have to be “retrained,” which would amount to “extreme abuse.” But the only other option would be to euthanize “a number” of the dogs.
The only thing about all that is the fact that it is not true. A recent article with Leafly revisited with a couple of officials quoted in the article. Steve Petrilli, the Normal Police Department’s assistant chief and a former K-9 handler, told Leafly that “The topic of euthanasia, that whole comment, I hadn’t heard that until the article was published. That would never be considered. I can’t even fathom why someone would make that statement.”
Petrilli said that the dogs would “either have to be retrained — which some handlers say is impossible or impractical — or retired,” though he reiterated to Leafly that “retired” was not a euphemism for “murder.” He just meant literally put them in a home and let them snack and sleep all day like lucky dogs do.
Furthermore, many drug-sniffing dogs actually do a lot besides looking for hidden stashes of dank. Kendra Doshier, deputy communications director at the Anchorage Police Department, said that there was no need to retire or slaughter any dogs after weed went legal in Alaska.
“None of our dogs exist solely for sniffing out drugs,” she said. “All our K-9s are highly trained in a wide range of skills, including tracking suspects, recovering weapons, and finding lost or missing adults and children. They all live with their handlers at home with their families. When they’re on-duty, they’re officers assisting our department in a multitude of incidents. When they’re off-duty, they get all the same perks as a regular house dog. In short – no, we have not euthanized our dogs. That seems quite severe.”
The only hazard in their new occupation is that weed might still be a distraction from time to time. Hey, by the way, did you know that the reason drug dogs sniff out weed is that they’re taught to love it? The more you know.
Photo via Flickr user Bennilover