With the number of states legalising marijuana we are now seeing a knock on effect with the use of police sniffer dogs.
As the highly trained dogs are trained to give the same reaction for all items that they are trained on they cannot be counted on to smell the right one. They can’t tell their handlers which narcotic they have smelt.
Tulo is one of the dogs going into early retirement in 2019. “A dog can’t tell you, ‘Hey, I smell marijuana’ or ‘I smell meth,’” said Tommy Klein, Rifle’s police chief. “They have the same behavior for any drug that they’ve been trained on. If Tulo were to alert on a car, we no longer have probable cause for a search based on his alert alone.”
Newly trained dogs are not being trained on marijuana, although the cost of a trained dog doesn’t come cheap and many forces just simply cannot afford the cost of replacing the animals. Local residents have raised money to buy forces new puppies for training.
“This has been a really difficult thing for some of the smaller departments that can’t afford to take out trained dogs,” said Officer Laas, who is the president of the Colorado Police K-9 Association.
“The community really came together and rallied to help us out,” said Cpl. Garrett Duncan, Tulo’s handler and partner.
Unfortunately old dogs would always be questioned on if they have smelt marijuana. Even though they will be out of a job the retired dogs will go home with their officers and remain as pets.