Oregon police dogs are about to be out of a job thanks to legalized pot

K9 police dog
(Image credit: iStock)

As many as 60 drug-sniffing dogs in Oregon are about to be out of a job thanks to legislation that has legalized recreational marijuana use starting July 1. Members of the police's K-9 unit have been trained, at the cost of $10,000 each, to smell for four odors: methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. While three of those drugs will remain illegal, soon the ability to identify marijuana will become a liability. The dogs are trained to sniff out marijuana and not budge until they are rewarded — a skill that will no longer be needed. And since pot is often around drugs that will remain illegal, cops and prosecutors will no longer be able to prove that the dog smelled an illegal drug, rather than a legal drug, that led to the arrest or search warrant.

While many of these dogs will be in early retirement, at least some will find new jobs. One dog, Dora, will be reassigned to a prison, one of the few places that marijuana will still be illegal. But that means being separated from her longtime human partner, Travis Dahl. "I'll stay away from her for a while. It would be too hard for her, and for me,” Dahl told The Guardian about their impending separation. Meanwhile, Dahl and the rest of the police force will replace their dogs with 'three-scent' dogs that were never trained to sniff for pot.

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