Police Sniffer Dogs Are Taking Early Retirement Because Of Marijuana Legalisation
Drug sniffing dogs are being put on early retirement because of the legalisation of marijuana in states in the US.
The legalisation of cannabis has had benefits in many states across the US, including the reduction of crime and economic improvements. One change that many don’t think of, however, is the retirement of sniffer dogs. Some police dogs are now being offered early retirement because of the legalisation of marijuana in 16 states.
In Virginia, drug-sniffing dogs are being retired early as departments rush to adapt to plans to accelerate the legalisation of cannabis. This is because police can no longer search someone solely on the odour of marijuana.
On the back of this, dogs trained to sniff out the drug could make incorrect detections and simply alert police to legal acts.
Quincy Police Department’s Lt. Bob Gillan, the department’s K-9 Unit Supervisor, told AP News how drug traffickers managed to avoid prosecution in cases with sniffer dogs:
Usually, when they’re delivering their illegal drugs, they will always have marijuana burning in the car. Any defense attorney worth his or her salt will say, ‘Well, your dog hit on a legal substance,’ (not the illegal drugs).
While many will be pleased to hear the dogs can take early retirement and get adopted by a family, others aren’t happy about the development. This is partially because of the costs required to train new dogs that will focus on drugs that are still illegal.
It costs $15,000 to buy and train a new dog to search for drugs and not every department can afford this. Unfortunately for departments who invested in K-9s already, dogs can’t be retrained to not sniff out marijuana.
Don Slavik, executive director of the United States Police Canine Association for departments explained that ‘once you train a behavior in a dog, that never goes away. They don’t want any mistakes, so that is why they want to bring in new dogs’.
New dogs are now being trained to detect other substances, but some are disappointed their existing canine friends will no longer be around the office.
Cumberland County Sheriff Darrell Hodges noted that his office recently had to retire its drug-detecting K-9, a Belgian Malinois named Mambo:
You work with them day in and day out, and they become part of you, and to just take it away is kind of tough.
Fortunately, Hodges was able to adopt Mambo and let the K-9 live his fullest life in retirement: ‘The dog is actually living a wonderful life. He has his own bedroom in a house and is getting spoiled rotten.’
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