Police Threaten to Euthanize Drug Dogs Over Marijuana Legalization

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: We can’t legalize marijuana because … it would put some dogs out of work. At least, that’s what Illinois police are claiming – and the story gets worse, because they say that drug detection dogs taken off the job will be euthanized.

If you think this claim sounds totally bananas, you’re not alone. In fact, a lot of experts in the field are expressing skepticism about these assertions.

Narcotics dogs are very expensive to train — costing thousands of dollars each, and they’re often funded through grants and charities, rather than purchased directly by departments. Dogs are paired with handlers who train alongside them to learn how to effectively care for them. Police officers tend to forge close attachments to their canine companions, in a bond that transcends a simple working partnership.

These dogs are trained to detect a variety of narcotics, not just marijuana. The claim that they’d be “useless” if their marijuana-sniffing skills were no longer needed doesn’t hold water. Nor does the claim that retraining them would be “abusive.” In states where marijuana has been legalized, police dogs haven’t been experiencing too many hardships; there’s still plenty of work to do, including sniffing out cannabis in places where it doesn’t belong.

It’s also suspect that retiring dogs would lead to euthanasia. Many police dogs retire to the homes of their handlers when they’re done working, but they’re also extraordinarily well-mannered. Some organizations work with police departments to place retirees in homes appropriate to their needs and activity levels — and they live long, happy lives once they leave the force. A large network of supportive dog lovers ensures that retired police dogs don’t have to fear homelessness!

In fact, under a law that passed in Illinois last year, retired dogs are offered first to their handlers, and then to other personnel. If they can’t be placed “in the family,” so to speak, they’re referred to a shelter facility or organization. This legislation was created in response to a case where a police officer wanted to adopt his retiring partner and was rebuffed.

This story has captured the internet’s attention — and understandably, because the internet loves dogs, and many people are passionate about animal welfare. While the claims being made in this case wouldn’t likely come to pass, they do highlight the need to learn more about how law enforcement agencies handle dogs — not just while they’re working, but also when they retire to civilian life. Police dogs — and horses — lead challenging, demanding lives, and they deserve a blissful retirement in a loving home.

If this story has you worried about the future of police dogs in your area, consider contacting a local advocacy group to ask them about prevailing laws regarding retirement for dogs who work in law enforcement. If your state has nebulous laws that don’t clearly spell out how retirement should be handled, consider pushing for legislation that will protect canine welfare.

Photo Credit: Nellis Air Force Base


Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Antje S
Antje S9 months ago

So crazy - they deserve homes not needles

Jen S
Jen S10 months ago

In that most departments retain ownership until a dog is retired, and have public funding, I find the idea as unlikely as it is appalling.

Melania P
Melania P10 months ago

Ungrateful bastards! Petition signed and shared

Michael F
Michael F10 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

Karen N
Karen N10 months ago

I agree with Marty P! . . . I signed the petition yesterday with a comment.

Hannah K
Past Member 10 months ago

thanks for sharing

Marty P
Marty P10 months ago

They should euthanize the cops instead as these dogs are more valuable to society than any cop would ever be.

Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx10 months ago

@ Paul Cole. Sorry but I can not follow your reasoning. Many, many men love their dogs with heart and soul. Some even love their dogs more than their wives ... My husband and I have been discussing taking our 3rd shelter dog for a couple of weeks. Finally he got what he wanted, viz. we went to a couple of shelters the next week-end and came back with a German Shepherd female dog, we named Lucy. So loving a dog, and treating it with respect and dignity is NOT only a female matter.
I have known a friend's husband who was a Police Officer and worked with dogs. She often complained : "he loves his dog more than he loves me". Which of course was exaggerated, but you could see him every morning at 05.30 hrs taking his dog for a walk of at least 30/45 mins. Rain or storm or sunshine, the weather did not matter. His dog needed his morning walk, and then breadfast !!

Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx10 months ago

@ Jenet F : Well said. Even didn't think abt the fact that they need a veterinary to do this filthy job. I am quite sure that NO good, compassionate vet would ever euthanize 10 or more sound dogs of young or medium age, just because "allegedly" unemployed. That would close all doors. Then could we also euthanize all people that are without a job for more than a year ?? Or is this just one step too far ??