drug dog

A headline in The Week magazine recently spooked a lot of dog lovers. “Illinois police claim if marijuana is legalized, they’ll have to kill their police dogs,” it said.

No, not really. It turns out the scare was the product of misinterpretation and hyperbole. Here’s what happened.

Though the original article says nothing about euthanizing the K-9 units, several follow-up pieces, including from the national magazine The Week, reported that legalization in Illinois would mean mass doggy murder throughout the state.

But what really are the implications of legalization for K-9 units that have been trained to detect cannabis? Are the dogs really that useless after they are no longer needed to detect pot? And is euthanasia really the most likely outcome?

“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,” said Steve Petrilli, the Normal Police Department’s assistant chief.

Petrilli did back up one part of the original Pantagraph piece. It says, “If pot use becomes legal, the dogs would likely either have to be retrained — which some handlers say is impossible or impractical — or retired.”

Retraining or retiring dogs to live with an officer is the approach other legal-cannabis states have taken. And for the most part, it’s gone smoothly.

See the original article at Leafly