In 2016, the state of Illinois made the move to decriminalize possession of a small amount of marijuana. Now, two years later, Illinois lawmakers are deciding whether to follow in the footsteps of nine other U.S. states and legalize the recreational use of marijuana. If this law passes, law enforcement officials say that the state will be faced with a huge dilemma: What should be done with the hundreds of certified narcotic detection dogs who are trained to sniff out pot?
Retraining the dogs is one option. However, Chad Larner, the training director at the K-9 Training Academy in Macon County, rejected the idea of retraining the Illinois K-9 team. Because the dogs are taught to sniff out a variety of drugs, including cocaine, heroin and marijuana, Larner and other officials say that it may be difficult or impossible to retrain them to smell everything except for marijuana if the drug is legalized.
The other option — retiring the dogs — is supposedly also problematic. According to Larner, many K-9s are trained not to be social so that they can concentrate on their work. In turn, he claims that a number of dogs would need to be euthanized if pot became legal, and they could no longer be used to sniff out drugs.
Is this true? Is euthanizing dogs the only viable option? Absolutely not! A quick look at how other states have dealt with the question of what to do with their narcotic detection dogs after legalizing pot shows that Larner’s claims are outrageous. Many states have found a reasonable solution by continuing to use their K-9s to search for large amounts of marijuana.
Plus, the implication that drug-sniffing dogs can’t continue to live happy lives once they are retired is totally bogus. Public Affairs Officer Elias Mendiola and Assistant Police Chief Steve Petrilli pointed out that it’s the norm in the Illinois cities of Normal and Bloomington for retired K-9s to live with their handlers.
By threatening to euthanize dogs, it seems as if Illinois lawmakers are trying to steer citizens away from voting for legal marijuana. If you think this is wrong, sign this petition on Care2 now to tell them to stop the unreasonable threats and pledge not to kill any dogs if marijuana is legalized in Illinois!
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