The training director of a police K-9 academy in Illinois claims that if the state legalizes recreational marijuana, it will likely have to euthanize "a number" of its pot-sniffing dogs, The Pantagraph reports.
There are approximately 275 trained narcotic K-9s in Illinois, with each costing the department thousands of dollars. Replacing the dogs would cost millions, and Chad Larner, the director of Maron County's K-9 Training Academy, said "retraining" the dogs would be "extreme abuse."
"At this point, they're trained on five different odors," explained the Normal Police Department's assistant police chief, Steve Petrilli, a former K-9 handler. "Once they're programed with that, you can't just deprogram them." The dogs are also trained against being social in order to be effective workers, which led Larner to suggest "a number" of the K-9s would have to be euthanized in the event that marijuana is legalized, The Pantagraph writes.
Marijuana advocates are skeptical about the threat. "The idea that legalizing for adults to have an ounce on them will equal ... all these dogs being euthanized, that seems kind of ridiculous and hyperbolic," the executive director of the advocacy group NORML, Dan Linn, told The Pantagraph. Petrilli likewise said the dogs would likely continue to live with their handlers in retirement, and in states where the drug has already been legalized, some K-9s have simply been retrained to ignore the (much more frequent) whiffs of pot. Read the full report about what is to become of the police dogs at The Pantagraph. Jeva Lange
Editor's note: This article originally overstated the number of dogs that might be euthanized. It has subsequently been clarified.