Illinois police official threatens to euthanize K-9 drug search dogs if the state legalizes weed
Police dog (Shutterstock)

The head of a police K-9 academy in Illinois said police might be forced to euthanize some of the 275 trained drug search dogs in the state if the legislature legalizes recreational marijuana, reports The Pantagraph.

According to  Chad Larner, director of Maron County's K-9 Training Academy, "retraining" the dogs would be "extreme abuse," and that many of the dogs are not socialized to the extent that they would make good pets if retired.

The report notes that narcotic-trained K-9s detect marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamine, but would need expensive retraining to become bomb-sniffing dogs.. Larner explained that a retrained dog might still alert their handler to drugs, setting off alarms about a bomb threat where none exists and leading to false arrests.

Normal Police Department's assistant police chief, Steve Petrilli -- a former K-9 handler -- backed up Larner's claims about the retraining of dogs, saying, "At this point, they’re trained on five different odors. Once they’re programmed with that, you can’t just deprogram them. I think the implications of that would be huge."

However Petrilli parted ways with Larner's comments about putting the dogs down, saying many of them would likely be adopted by their handlers with whom they have bonded.

Legalized marijuana advocates took issue with the K-9 director's threats, saying he was using scare tactics to influence the public.

“The idea that legalizing for adults to have an ounce on them will equal ... all these dogs being euthanized, that seems kind of ridiculous and hyperbolic,” accused Dan Linn, executive director of the marijuana advocacy group Illinois NORML.

According to the report, the Illinois Sheriffs' Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, are opposed to legalization efforts.