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Illinois Police Dog Trainer Warns: We May Euthanize Our Drug Dogs If You Legalize Weed

Behold, the worst argument against legalizing marijuana.

National LampoonNational LampoonI have found the worst argument against legal marijuana. Chad Larner, training director of a police K-9 academy, claims that if Illinois legalizes pot, the state just might have to kill some of its roughly 275 pot-sniffing dogs.

The Pantagraph reports:

"The biggest thing for law enforcement is, you're going to have to replace all of your dogs," said Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett, whose private foundation paid $2.2 million in 2016 to support K-9 units in 33 counties across Illinois. "So to me, it's a giant step forward for drug dealers, and it's a giant step backwards for law enforcements and the residents of the community."...

Replacing all of the K-9 units in the state would cost millions, which Buffett said would fall on each individual law enforcement agency.

Because many K-9s are trained not to be social so their work won't be affected, Larner said a number of dogs would likely have to be euthanized.

If you don't keep weed illegal, we'll kill this dog, to put it in the style of the famous National Lampoon cover.

The cops' concerns here may be a bit more self-interested than they're letting on. You see, training police dogs costs a lot of money. Up to $20,000 per animal, not including ongoing food and kenneling costs. But drug-sniffing dogs bring in cash through civil asset forfeiture. Every time an Illinois drug dog hits paydirt during a traffic stop, police get to seize cash and cars. On a heavy drug-trafficking corridor, a K-9 unit can be a revenue-generating machine. For example, Illinois state and local police seized $72 million in cash and other property in 2014 and 2015, according to public records obtained by Reason.

In 2016, Illinois decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, but larger amounts are still a felony offense. If marijuana is fully legalized, not only would that justification for asset forfeiture dry up, but all those current K-9 units couldn't suddenly be trained to not detect pot, making them questionable, if not totally useless, for the purpose of establishing probable cause for police searches.

And wouldn't it be a shame if all those dogs, and police, had to find other activities to fill their time besides busting weed dealers?

Photo Credit: National Lampoon

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Because many K-9s are trained not to be social...

    Seems just as likely to be an argument to make it illegal to train a dog to attack a human.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    What do they do with police officers, who are trained not to be social, when they retire or go on their regular paid leave of absence?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    According to Macon County Sheriff Howard Buffett's logic, they should be euthanized. Fair is fair, after all.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Yes, this follows the logic that a K9 is in fact police officer. Try shooting one in defense of your self or property and see what happens to you.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yes, euthanasia for no-longer-needed DEA types DOES sound good to me!!!!

  • Hugh Akston||

    They still retain their privileges of concealed carry and immunity to most laws.

  • ||

    when they retire

    I was just thinking that, in a case of double irony*, they should wait until a bunch of these police dogs are two days from retirement and then legalize marijuana.

    *combat stupidity with satire?

  • Libertymike||

    Are you okay?

    Tough loss last night.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    He is crying on the inside, but he has appearances to keep up.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Surprisingly, not really. It turns out I was just at burnt out on the whole thing as the players seemed to be themselves. Time for someone else to go to June.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Hockey is great when you win, isn't it?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Hippies in Austin trained dogs to attack narcs when Nixon was issuing orders to kill and bomb people

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Specifically, K-9 dogs as well as (well-trained) service dogs, assistance dogs, etc., are trained to be socially neutral. That is, not to seek social interaction with other dogs or even people once the vest goes on. This keeps them focused on their work and the handler. However, when not on the job, the dogs can be as playful and interactive as any other dog. The vest itself is kind of a signal to the dog that new rules are now at work.

    Police K-9s are routinely retired, and if they cannot go to the handler can be and are placed with an appropriate home. Since their skills are all on command, the new owner simply has to avoid giving the command and Bob's your uncle. The dogs are not ticking time bombs.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I'm going to stick this one in the ol' rhetorical toolbelt next time someone breezily suggests that the drug dog sniffing your car in the ferry lane has been perfectly retrained to NOT "alert" on Marijuana which is perfectly legal here.

  • Hugh Akston||

    People get to smoke weed without going to jail, and cops get to murder dogs. Sounds like a win-win proposition to me.

  • XopherVT||

    I'd adopt one.
    I like dogs and have lost weed on more than occasion. Having a pet that could help me find it would've been great.

  • Eidde||

    Yeah, but is the dog trained to share?

  • Eidde||

    ALTERNATE JOKE: If St. Anthony of Padua doesn't want to look for your missing pot, have a police-surplus dog find it for you.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Readers will find a picture of the prohibitionist Eddie sockpuppet in today's Sinfest comic.

  • In Time Of War||

    Ever see a dog share a bacon treat? Dogs bogart.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    See... this is Libertarianism making lemonade out of lemons.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    "the state just might have to kill some of its roughly 275 pot-sniffing dogs."

    Just set the dogs free and let the boys in blue do the killing for you.

  • BigT||

    Target practice. Brilliant!!

  • RevengencerAlf||

    I'm surprised they're not celebrating. We already know cops love to execute other people's dogs. You'd think they'd be jumping for joy at the prospect of gunning down their own.

  • In Time Of War||

    That's not how it works. The "retired" K9 units were, once, by their mythos, police officers with all due rights and privileges. If these "retired" officers are now cast randomly into society, every time a cop gets a dog-kill-boner they're going to have to pause, however briefly, to determine if their target was, at one time, a cop. This endangers the officer, hampers their ability to kill dogs efficiently, and might lead to them going home at the end of shift with dog slobber on their costume. These are not risks we should expect heroes to take.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Because many K-9s are trained not to be social so their work won't be affected, Larner said a number of dogs would likely have to be euthanized.

    Horseshit. Dogs can be rehabilitated. If pitbulls once used for dog fighting can be rehabilitated, there's no reason police K-9s can't be too.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Since cops can't be retrained to respect human life they assume that their dogs can't be retrained to be social.

  • Ron||

    the cops are to stupid to realize the dogs are smarter than them.

  • StackOfCoins||

    Let's just euthanize the cops instead and promote the dogs.

  • Tamfang||

    Dunning-Kruger-9 effect?

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    It's much more humane to euthanize them than to give them to the community will they will needlessly suffer after being shot by a LEO.

  • ||

    Horseshit. Dogs can be rehabilitated.

    It's bullshit several layers deep. You specifically *don't* have to train them. They aren't trained to attack on the smell of pot, they're trained to point or alert. They don't get an intrinsic kick out of discovering marijuana so, stop rewarding the pointing behavior and they'll stop doing it. Moreover, the dog points on legal marijuana, so what? It's not like it's the dog that Mirandizes the suspect and puts them in the back of the squad car.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I think the officer's point (aside from the one on top of his head) is that the dogs are trained to not have the normal friendly reaction of a dog meeting someone new. They ignore that social stimulus in order to complete the task at hand. But that's bullshit too - my dog does the exact same thing to me when i'm trying to get him to stop eating some raccoon shit he found in the yard.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Or like Michael Hihn when a new Paul article goes up.

  • ||

    I think the officer's point (aside from the one on top of his head) is that the dogs are trained to not have the normal friendly reaction of a dog meeting someone new.

    Sure, but they can't be tearing everyone's arm off who even extends a hand or else you couldn't train and employ them (and would likely euthanize) in the first place. Any dog that can be trained to ignore people, be nonchalant, and do a task can *easily* be trained to ignore the task, pay attention to people, and be personable/friendly.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I didn't say the officer had a good point.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    And detection dogs can be and are just like that. They are DETECTION dogs, not attack or arrest dogs. They do not confront suspects or take them down. They sniff stuff out and alert their handler. Period. And off the job they are just as social and playful as any other dog. They become socially "neutral" when the vest goes on, and that is only because they must focus on the work at hand. Otherwise, no problems.

  • The Federal Farmer||

    They should retrain them to be Civil Forfeiture Dogs.

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    My dogs are trained to not give a shit about other people. That's the perfect temperament for a working dog. If they are unstable they can't be around people, maybe they should be put down.

    What's more, working dogs have to retire usually by eight years old. Maybe ten if all he does is non-physical probable cause duty. It's a reasonable assumption half of these dogs would retire in a couple of years, anyway.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If they can train the dogs to resist being friendly with people than they can re-train dogs to be friendly again.

    Dogs are naturally super friendly to those they like and feed them.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    As a long-time dog trainer (yes, I'm a polymath) and former pit bull owner, I can say that taking a pit bull who has been used for dog fighting is a risky proposition. Yes, pits are sweet and loving, but that aggression trigger has been well honed and the dog must forever be closely managed in public.

    But this is not a matter of rehabilitation. Saying that police K-9s are "not social" does not mean they are "antisocial". It just means that when working, the dogs are trained to ignore people, other dogs, cute kittens and the like. They focus on the job alone. This is (or should be) also true of all working service dogs. When not on the job, these dogs can be as social as anyone would like. Putting on the working gear is what tells the dog that it's time for work, not play. That's all it means to say the dogs are "not social". They are, however, completely well socialized. Even a K-9 "attack" dog is completely social when not at work. They are not ticking time bombs.

  • Tony||

    If we declare peace, what will we do with our killer robots?

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Are you talking specifically about John McCain or Lindsey Graham?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Leo, they are not really robots. McCain is a lich and Graham is a succubus that's been fired for lying on "her" job application.

  • Tony||

    Killer robots that look like wrinkly old men? Not the worst idea I've ever heard! Element of surprise.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    So Tony, are you getting one of those new sex dolls that look like an underaged boy? it's the new Chickenhawk collection. Just for pederasts like you.

  • Tony||

    For the last time, I am not former Republican Speaker Denny Hastert.

  • Pro Libertate||

    We obey them?

  • silent v||

    On my mobile app this is rendered as Illinois Police Dog Trainer Warns: If You Legalize Weed, We Might Have to Euthanize C.J. Ciaramella

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Fuck!

  • Hugh Akston||

    Look, we knew going in that legalizing pot was going to come with costs.

  • ||

    [gif of the Terminator lowering himself into the molten steel while giving a thumbs up]

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Adiós, child.

  • Rich||

    Illinois Police Dog Trainer Warns: We May Euthanize Our Drug Dogs If You Legalize Weed

    No! Teach 'em to sniff out human traffickers!

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Instead of farming the dogs out to the homes of the officers. Cops who murder dogs should just disappear.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Reason should run a cover like that. Not a dog, though. Something legal, but, when threatened, would scare people into libertarianism.

  • Ska||

    I'd fucking euthanize them myself if it meant not arresting anyone for pot ever again.

    I got to spend a couple days in jail, pay for lawyers, and deal with 5 years of probation over a fucking trumped up pot arrest. If I can stop that from happening to a few people for the sacrifice of 275 german shepherds, so be it. It becomes a better and better deal as the number of people who won't have to deal with ever again increases.

  • ||

    I'd fucking euthanize them myself

    What you do with your dogs on your property is your own business, but we can agree that it's probably a bad idea to put doggy snuff fetishes at the center of the LP platform, right?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Dogs are more than property.

    It's a shame some brave soul didn't put an end to Michael Vick.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Well, OK

    Nobody should confuse what happens in a dog-fight arena with what police (and military) K-9s are trained to do and in fact do. Complete lecture available to anyone who wants to sponsor a seminar.

  • Paloma||

    Right on Ska

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Instead, why not euthanize 275 cops?

  • Hank Phillips||

    No big loss. Once they abdicate the defense of individual rights and turn instead to assault and robbery, they abdicate all moral claims and their actions make them the very thing service pistols were designed and issued to prevent.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It would be terrible if these K9 officers were torn from the respectful care of their human partners.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Don't forget about this little gem.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That one is at least only negligence. My link was a guy taking it out on his drug-sniffing dog for failing to hit on command.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Basic rule of training: if the dog does not perform the fault is at the other end of the leash.

  • Hank Phillips||

    OK, but that doesn't mean the cruel bastard would deliberately plant fake evidence on a citizen in order to score asset-forfeiture points, right? LET'S BE FAIR!

  • totc||

    I bet the government could send all those K-9s to the Phillipines to work over there. Dueterte gets a boost in his war on pot, the dog lovers won't cry over killed puppies, and America gets rid of a burden.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Half of those dogs would be eaten within days. Source: my Filipina officemate who's still pissed about what happened to her puppy 40 years ago.

  • Rebel Scum||

    Suddenly the cops care about dogs.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Nah, they just realized that other people care about dogs so they figure they'll make good hostages.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Man, somebody had to spend a lot of time explaining to those cops what 'caring' is and how it works.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    We've been seeing pot legalization gain more and more popularity for years, with the first states legalizing it in 2012. Apparently it took at least 6 years for them to grasp the concept.

  • ||

    Apparently it took at least 6 years for them to grasp the concept.

    Grasp the concept is generous.

    There's no way of knowing if:

    Officer Q: "You mean the usual extortion with the threat of violence, except we just use our own stuff?"
    Officer A: "Yeah, like a bait and switch."

    isn't the interpretation.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The pigs have no trouble caring about asset forfeiture.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    The handlers and the teams that work with the handlers certainly do.

  • Longtobefree||

    "and not only that, we will hold our breath until we turn blue and pass out - - "

    I say treat all tantrums alike. Ignore them if possible, otherwise lock up the tantrum thrower until things calm down. I would say spank them, but that might upset the dog.

  • BYODB||

    Isn't it weird how dumbass dogs are probable cause manufacturing machines?


    Nah, I'm sure dogs are really great at smelling things and have a tremendously excellent margin of error. Oh...what's that you say? They don't?


    Ah, shit. Is there some other really easy way to violate civil liberties with something that's cute and fuzzy? Heroin smelling cats, maybe?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "Nah, I'm sure dogs are really great at smelling things and have a tremendously excellent margin of error. Oh...what's that you say? They don't?"

    Actually, they do. But as with all things the dog must be well trained. And in most cases the training is insufficient. You watch a show like North Woods Law, for example, you see handlers actively encouraging the dog in the search. This is improper, and can be challenged in court. The dog must work independently of the handler when on a search and if the dog does not come up with something on its own that cannot properly be remedied by handler intervention.

    Review the work done by dogs at sites like the Murrah Federal Building or the WTC after 9/11 and see what these dogs can do. Or, for those readers among us, read Glenn Johnson's "Tracking Dog".

  • ducksalad||

    They alert when the handlers want them to, or if not, the handler can just lie and say the dog alerted. Either way it's bogus, and the dog is an active participant in Honest Services Fraud (18 USC 1346).

    Therefore I think all these dogs ought to be sentenced to 4-10 years in one of those white-collar country club prisons.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Don't you mean 0.5714 to 1.4286 years?

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Simply shameless.

  • Zebra Jr.||

    Why can't somebody tear up Nixon's legacy? Fucking scumbag started this drug war to fuck with liberals and blacks and what happens when a liberal black guy wins the presidency. Nothing. Pussy motherfuckers. Trump is showing you liberal cowards how its done. It's war so act like it.

  • Unemployed Armenian Tranny||

    Even if they carried out this ridiculous policy, it would be a net gain in dog-lives, as it would mean les jack-boots kicking in doors and killing anything with a tail as a matter of policy.

  • Myk||

    Local PD chief threatened to pull over everyone who had a medical license if we legalized medical. He would have no choice because they just don't know how to test if people are driving inebriated.

    Do they only train their dogs to sniff pot? That seems like a lot of money to focus on finding the least risky recreational drug that even a human can smell.
    I know for a fact when they took the K9 unit through a local high school they were able to find sandwiches. Maybe they could refocus their dogs to finding donuts.

    If they do kill the dogs does whoever kills them get charged with killing a cop like any regular citizen would? Wouldn't that threat to kill them itself be a felony?

  • Echospinner||

    Oranges.

    We were coming back from a trip to Mexico.

    My wife had an orange in her bag which she ate and disposed of on the plane.

    Getting off in Miami the beagle went woof and the customs guy searched her luggage. No Orange which was good since bringing an orange from Mexico is a crime.

    Dogs can sniff cancer better than a radiologist if trained.

    Leave the dogs out of it.

  • BYODB||

    Or, it's just like that octopus that could predict who was going to win soccer matches. People want to see a correlation, so they see a correlation.

    Sure, dogs do have excellent smell but they're animals so...a steak or a sandwich might be more interesting to them than 'doing their job'. That's some pretty flimsy window dressing for manufacturing probable cause for a search.

  • Echospinner||

    The orange had been in the bag before she ate it on the plane. That is what the beagle picked up.

    Orange smell is pretty easy one. Pot has a strong odor as well.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Though you just described a false positive, so not a good mark for that dog.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    It is when you're a noble paladin of the customs plunging the shning fangs of state action into the unsuspecting rear of the illicit orange smuggling racket.

  • Echospinner||

    High sensitivity low specificity.

    So high negative predictive value.

    Which is what you want in a screening test.

    Of course not practical as it would depend on the individual dog. I recall that there was an attempt to reproduce the breath test in the lab (laboratory not Labrador) which did not get far.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    At least in Southern California the "test" is simple: is the person incapacitated in some fashion from operating a motor vehicle? The standard FST usually answers that question.

  • Rockabilly||

    What pathetic ass clowns. You'd kill a dog if the weed was legal? You're pathetic and disgusting sub human beings. I shit on your grave.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    How is killing a dog different from killing a chicken, cow, pig, or cockroach?

    If you are a vegan, I salute your principle and consistency. If not, your position seems silly.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    I know this is beyond your comprehension so I'll keep it simple: there has been a symbiotic relationship between dogs and people going back centuries. We seek each other's company. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that you seek the company of cockroaches, I don't think the rest of us do. As for other animals, yes when people work closely with what may generally be called farm animals they can and do become attached to them. Yet even at its strongest that attachment does not come anywhere close to what happens with people and dogs.

  • JuanQPublic||

    The man is lying, in this bizarre, last ditch, sad attempt to keep people from supporting legalization.

  • Ecoli||

    Cops complaining about killing dogs. It is a bizarro world.

  • No Longer Amused||

    Asset forfeiture has literally the police into organized crime.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I eagerly await the day when every person working as a drug warrior is compelled to find a decent livelihood for once. At the moment, every drug warrior is a lousy, ugly human being. Maybe they'll improve if their narc careers are terminated.

  • Lachowsky||

    When alcohol was legalized, the brave revenue agents found themselves employed by the newly formed ATF. The drug warriors transformed into gun warriors. Expect much the same as the WOD winds down.

  • santamonica811||

    "Nice dog you have. Be a shame if anything horrible happened to it."

    Guilt trip/extort people into opposing pot legalization. Classy.

  • Lachowsky||

  • josh||

    .....I'm more of a cat person anyway.

  • Kazinski||

    I've already started a service to help people find pot they've lost between their couch cushions, in their laundry, or just plain forgot where they stashed it.

    It happens all the time. I've even got a couple of dogs that can signal what the safe combination is, If they left their weed in the safe and can't get in. It actually only worked once when I knew the marks, I mean customers birthdate, but I did get a nice testimonial.

    But really the point is, there is no reason to kill these dogs, they've got more skills than most H1B applicants.

  • ejhickey||

    I would buy one those dogs to help find pot.

  • Intelligent Mr Toad||

    If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

    Need to euthanize a lot of dogs? Send them to North Korea, for the hungry children there to eat. Kim will appreciated being rewarded in this way for his nicey-nice talk.

  • Liberty Lover||

    So the only drug these dogs can find is weed? Not heroin, not crystal meth, not coke, and definitely not fentanyl. The list could go on. I did not know drug sniffing dogs were one trick ponies.

  • JuanQPublic||

    They are when there's a drug warrior agenda and they are resorting to sad, lazy, bald face lies in response to incoming legal weed.

    How embarrassing the K-9 guys comment is.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Most drug-detection dogs are trained to detect the drugs you name, and new ones come on line regularly.

  • Hank Phillips||

    That Lampoon cover came to mind immediately the story broke. There you have an iconic summation of what Richard Nixon/Herbert Hoover Quaker-style republican rule was like. Good work!

  • JuanQPublic||

    Absolutely ridiculous. Not coincidentally, it makes about the same amount of sense as marijuana prohibition.

  • Dread Pirate Roberts||

    We all know the animals will go to cop dog heaven, where they will spend eternity sinking their teeth into the groins of minorities. Sounds like a win-win to me.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Drug-detection dogs are not arrest dogs and are not trained to attack. The reason is simple: the police want these dogs free to work without conflict from the suspects.

  • Hugo S. Cunningham||

    A Soviet dissident writer saw a similar problem:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faithful_Ruslan

  • ||

    maybe they should go ahead and euthanize The Drug Warrior policemen too?

  • libertynugget||

    Everytime you mastrrbate God kills a kitten.
    So its a wash

  • ohdelilah||

    Yeah, but they're not busting weed dealers. They're harassing and intimidating innocent people, maybe picking up a low-level user once in a while.

  • Utilitarian||

    Cops routinely kill dogs (and other family pets) during SWAT raids. Because of that, I find it difficult to care about the (alleged) fate of drug-sniffing dogs if marijuana is legalized.

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