What’s a working dog to do? You learn your trade, hone your skills, toil away, only to find out that the world around you has evolved to a point where those skills are no longer much appreciated.
It’s why you can’t find a blacksmith too easily nowadays. It’s what happened to the elevator operator, the milkman, and, at least from my biased and disgruntled point of view, the newspaper reporter.
Such too was the case with Phelan, a marijuana-detecting Labrador retriever in the employ of the police department in Lakewood, Colorado.
With the passage by Colorado voters of Initiative 502 — legalizing the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana — the skill Phelan was best known for is no longer much in demand there.
In fact, his biggest asset has become a liability, the News Tribune reports.
Phelan was handed his pink slip this week and sold to the state Department of Corrections, where, in his new job, his inability to distinguish between marijuana and other drugs won’t be a problem — all drugs being illegal behind bars.
The same story is playing out in Washington state, where voters also legalized marijuana use, and where police departments are figuring out whether to cease training new dogs in marijuana detection, put their existing dogs through ”pot desensitization” training or just retire them and send them out to pasture, according to the Associated Press.
Take it from me, pasture sucks. Dogs and people, I think, prefer having a mission.
But Phelan’s mission, at least in the two states where moderate amounts of marijuana are now permitted, no longer much needs to be accomplished. Worse yet, alerting to small amounts of marijuana could mess up prosecutions in cases involving other, still illegal, drugs.
Say Phelan alerted to drugs in the trunk of a car. Phelan’s inability to distinguish between heroin and marijuana — or at least specify to his handler to which he is alerting — means any subsequent search by officers could have been based on Phelan detecting an entirely legal drug, in an entirely legal amount.
That means the “probable cause” the search was based on might not have really existed, and that means any evidence of illegal drugs subsequently found in the search would likely be tossed out.
Thus Phelan, unless he were to be retrained to drop marijuana-detecting from his repertoire — not easily accomplished — has ended up going from cutting edge law enforcement tool to an old school has been.
Drug detecting dogs — traditionally trained to alert to the smell of marijuana, heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and cocaine – can’t specify what they’re smelling, much less the quantity it might be in.
In Washington, the new law decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of the drug for individuals over 21, and barred the growth and distribution of marijuana outside the state-approved system.
Dog trainer Fred Helfers, of the Pacific Northwest Detection Dog Association, said abandoning pot training is a “knee-jerk” reaction: “What about trafficking? What about people who have more than an ounce?” Still, he’s helping departments who want to put their dogs through ”extinction training” to change what substances dogs alert to. That takes about 30 days, followed by a prolonged period of reinforcement.
The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission removed detecting marijuana from its canine team certification standards this year, and no longer requires dogs be trained to detect it, but some others say, given large amounts of pot are still illegal, it can still be a useful skill for a dog to have.
In Pierce County, prosecutor Mark Lindquist believes new dogs are the answer — dogs trained in sniffing out the other drugs, but not marijuana. He’s not convinced dogs can be re-trained. “We’ll need new dogs to alert on substances that are illegal,” he told the Associated Press.
Other police departments, like Tacoma’s, aren’t making any changes.
“The dog doesn’t make the arrest, the officer does,” said spokesperson Loretta Cool. “A canine alert is just one piece of evidence an officer considers when determining whether a crime has been committed.”
Phelan was one of two drug-sniffing dogs on the police force in Lakewood, Colorado. He’ll be replaced by Kira, a Belgian Malinois who was trained not to alert when she smells marijuana. Duke, a Labrador retriever mix with the old-school training, will remain on the force for now.
Phelan, though, will be moving on, and I sympathize with the crime-fighting Lab.
His new gig in the slammer is clearly a step down the career ladder — not unlike going from being a newspaper reporter detecting corruption and injustice to an unpaid blogger who mostly (but not entirely) regurgitates material already written.
And, for Phelan, there’s the added insult of being sold for the lowly sum of one dollar.
Surely — old school as his talents may be – he was worth more than that.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, cocaine, colorado, court, criminal justice, detect, detection, dog, dogs, drug-sniffing, drugs, heroin, job, K-9, k9, lakewood, law, law enforcement, marijuana, marijuana laws, mission, newspapers, police, police dogs, problems, prosecutors, purpose, reporters, searches, skills, sniffing, tacoma, useless, washington, working dogs
We haven’t warned you this year, as Halloween approaches, about chocolate and other candies that can harm your dog, assuming that by now you already know all that.
But you may not know about toxic toads.
It only took about half an hour for Deborah Barrett’s dog, a Jack Russell terrier named Willie, to die after he bit a Bufo marinus toad in his back yard last week.
“It was as big as a salad plate. My dog killed it, and when he came inside, within five minutes he went into convulsions, Barrett told Patch.com in Temple Terrace, which is outside Tampa.
Barrett said Willie died in the car on the way to an animal hospital.
The City of Temple Terrace is cautioning pet owners to watch out for the Bufo marinus toads, an invasive species that has taken hold in Florida. The gray-brown toads secrete a powerful toxin from their glands that can be poisonous to dogs, cats and other animals that bite them, and even people who handle them.
Small dogs are the most at risk, veterinarians say.
“Once they start having seizures, if you don’t address it quickly, it can cause massive brain damage,” said Dr. Paul Langston, of the Temple Terrace Animal & Bird Hospital.”If you can get them (to the vet) quickly, they’ll usually be OK.”
If you suspect your pet has bitten a Bufo toad, veterinarians advise rinsing its mouth and paws with water and seeking veterinary help immediately.
As with the mushrooms we told you about last week, the toads are being seen in higher numbers because of heavy rains.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bufo marinus, caution, dangers, deadly, death, deborah barrett, dogs, florida, halloween, hazard, health, heavy rains, jack russell terrier, marijuana, mushrooms, pets, poison, rain, temple terrace, toad, toads, toxic, toxic toads, toxins, warning, willie
As medical marijuana grows in popularity, so too does the chance that the dog is going to get into it.
It’s always been something that happens – dogs have been chowing down on their owner’s illegal stashes for decades, sometimes with fatal results.
But with the increasing use of medical marijuana, dogs are more likely to both have access to it and be tempted by it. For one thing, it doesn’t have to be hidden anymore. It can be kept in higher quantities. And, increasingly, those taking it for medical reasons are eating it instead of smoking it.
As a result, instead of a well-hidden bag of green leafy buds, dogs must resist the temptation of such things as rice crispy marijuana treats, cannabis oreo cookie cake, medical snickerdoodles and ganja lasagna.
In Colorado, there has been a spike in the number of cases of dogs getting sick from cannabis since medical marijuana was legalized.
Vets say they used to see dogs who had ingested marijuana a few times a year. Now pet owners bring in doped-up dogs as many as five times a week, CBS4 in Denver reports.
“There are huge spikes in the frequency of marijuana ingestion in places where it’s become legal,” veterinarian Dr. Debbie Van Pelt said.
Most of the time dogs get the medical marijuana by eating food laced with it — either that which their owners have prepared, or pre-laced foods purchased from dispensaries selling the products.
Dr. Stacy Meola, a veterinarian who coordinated a study looking at the numbers, say four times as many dogs have been getting treatment for ingesting marijuana since medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado.
It’s not always fatal, but it can be.
Most dogs survive, experiencing symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, staggering and sensitivity to sound and light.
In addition to accidental cases, veterinarians say some dog owners think it’s funny to get their dogs stoned– and even post videos of it.
“We need people to realize it is potentially toxic and potentially fatal to their pets,” Van Pelt said.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 3rd, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, baking, brownies, butter, coma, cookies, cooking, deaths, dispensaries, dog, dogs, eating, fatal, ganja lasagna, grass, health, ill, lethargy, marijuana, medical, medical marijuana, pets, pot, recipes, rice crispy treats, safety, sickness, smoking, snickerdoodles, survival, toxic, treatment, veterinarians, vomiting, warning, weed
Snoop Dogg was detained by authorities at an airport in Norway yesterday after a drug-sniffing dog alerted to a small amount of marijuana the artist brought into the country, Norwegian media are reporting.
Customs officials declined to confirm the report, saying only that an American artist who entered Norway was briefly held and fined.
Norwegian law prevents law enforcement officials from naming suspects.
The Associated Press quoted an anonymous customs officer as saying Snoop — found to be holding marijuana and more cash than is legally allowed – was fined 52,000 kroner ($8,600) for the violations.
Snoop Dogg was scheduled to perform Thursday at a musical festival in the southern town of Kristiansand.
The Daily Mail reported that Snoop, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, allegedly arrived at the Kjevic Airport in Kristiansand with around eight grams of the drug.
It was his second drug bust this year. In January he was arrested in Sierra Blanca, Texas after an inspection at a Border Patrol checkpoint.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airport, animals, artist, calvin broadus, cash, customs, detained, dog, dogs, drug detecting, drug-sniffing, eight grams, fined, Kjevic Airport, Kristiansand, marijuana, norway, pets, rap, snoop dogg
Michael Terron Daniel, 22, of Waco, was taken into custody Monday and charged with cruelty to a non-livestock animal, a felony.
The dog didn’t survive.
KHOU reported that Waco police responded to a call on June 14, reporting a man was “going crazy.”
Daniel had allegedly assaulted several housemates, then chased a neighbor on his hands and knees while barking and growling like a dog, police said.
Daniel then took a medium-sized black dog onto the front porch of the home, where he beat and strangled the animal and then “began to bite into the dog, ripping pieces of flesh away,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.
Officers found Daniel sitting on the porch with blood on his hands, clothing and face, Swanton said.
Daniel told police officers he was on a bad trip from ingesting K-2, and at one point asked that they shoot him with a stun gun “to help him get off his bad trip,” Swanton said.
His housemates declined to press assault charges against him, police said.
He is being held at the McLennan County Jail on $5,000 bond.
K-2, referred to as a form of synthetic marijuana, is a mixture of herbs and spices that is usually sprayed with a compound similar to THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, according to the DEA. Studies suggest it can cause extreme paranoia, hallucinations and violent behavior.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 26th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, assault, barked, behavior, bit, bite, chased, dogs, drugs, flesh, growled, k-2, marijuana, michael daniel, michael terron daniel, pets, ripped, strangled, synthetic, teeth, texas, waco, zombies
It’s not every day a police dog is subpoenaed to testify in court, and rarer yet, we’d guess, for a judge to actually approve such a thing, but that’s what happened in Florida last week.
A Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department K-9, named Azor, was brought into Judge Peter Bell’s courtroom when his presence was requested by a man fighting a traffic ticket.
The defendant, Rodney McGee, subpoenaed the dog as a defense witness after he was stopped in February for failure to use a turn signal.
Azor’s handler, suspecting McGee might have had drugs in the car, brought the dog along to give the car a sniff or two. No drugs were detected, and McGee was sent on his way with a traffic ticket.
McGee said he wanted the dog brought to his hearing so he could test its sniffing skills.
“I was hoping they would let me plant marijuana in the courthouse to see if he could find drugs,” McGee said. What relevance that has to his alleged failure to use his turn signal isn’t clear.
Judge Bell apparently saw it that way, too, declining McGee’s request and letting Azor depart the courtroom.
McGee lost the case. He was fined $300 for failure to use his turn signal.
That, as you can see in this news report, didn’t seem to bother him too much.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, azor, called, charlotte county, citation, defense, dogs, drug-sniffing, drugs, failure to signal, judge, K-9, k9, marijuana, news, officer, peter bell, pets, police dog, rodney mcgee, sheriff, subpoena, testifimony, traffic stop, traffic ticket, video, weird, witness
Police reports say two officers on bicycle detail were patrolling the parking lot of a Brandsmart when they spotted a dog Thursday inside a blue Buick — panting and without water.
While eyeing the dog though the partially cracked windows, they detected the “strong odor of marijuana” and saw a pipe containing residue.
When the car’s owner returned to his vehicle, he apologized for leaving the dog unattended and admitted he had marijuana in the car, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Officers found 478.3 grams of marijuana that the car’s owner told them was for his personal use.
Police arrested 40-year-old Raymond Hendry Zerba, of Cooper City, on charges of possession of marijuana over 20 grams, possession with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia and animal cruelty.
He was being held at the Palm Beach County Jail in lieu of $3,000 bond. News accounts don’t mention what happened to the dog.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arrest, car, dog, dogs, drugs, florida, heat, law enforcement, marijuana, parked, parking lot, pet, pets, police, safety, smell, unattended, vehicle, west palm beach, windows
The fatal shooting of a dog during a February SWAT team raid in Columbia, Missouri, has prompted the police department to change its policies, Chief Ken Burton said at a news conference Thursday.
You might guess he was talking about the department’s dog-shooting policy, which, judging from this video, seems to be shoot first, shoot some more, and ask questions later.
But no. After killing a family’s pit bull, wounding their Welsh corgi, and terrorizing the suspect’s wife and child — in a bust that netted a mere palmful of marijuana — the police department has revamped department policy so that there won’t be lags between the time they obtain a search warrant and the time they, stormtrooper style, bust into homes.
Burton said the department moved slowly in Whitworth’s case because the SWAT team is made up of part-time members who hold other jobs within the department.
The fact that officer killed one of the suspect’s dogs, intentionally, and wounded another, accidentally — while the incident is still being investigated internally — seems, to him, of little import.
Burton said the pit bull was acting aggressively, and he defended the actions of the officers involved, according to The Missourian.
The suspect, Jonathan Whitworth, pleaded guilty on April 20 to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia and was fined $300.
Subsequently, the police video was released and found its way onto YouTube, prompting a surge of protests from animal activists.
“We’re getting death threats from literally all over the world,” Burton said.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, columbia, complaints, corgi, death threats, dog, drugs, family, home, investigation, law enforcement, marijuana, missouri, news, ohmidog!, pets, pit bull, police, raid, response, shoot, shot, swat, swat team, video
Gun and drug charges against the Baltimore twins accused of setting a dog on fire were dropped this week.
The two still face animal cruelty and mutilation charges in a separate case accusing them of setting fire to a pit bull puppy, named Phoenix after her rescue.
Police searching the twins’ home during the animal cruelty investigation said they found a gun and some marijuana, leading to drugs and weapons charges against twin brothers Tremayne and Travers Johnson and their father.
Because of difficulties proving who owned the gun, prosecutors decided to drop all those charges and focus on the animal cruelty case, WJZ reported.
Phoenix was found on fire by a city police officer, who extinguished the flames with her jacket. The dog survived several days, but had to be euthanized.
The animal cruelty trial for the twins is scheduled for June.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, baltimore, burned, burning, charges, dog, dropped, drugs, firearms, gun, marijuana, news, ohmidog!, phoenix, pit bull, set on fire, travers johnson, tremayne johnson, twins
One of the three suspects arrested last week in what Baltimore County police describe as a dogfighting operation has a long record — of fighting for dogs.
Nicole Marie Caruso, a dog groomer at Sobo Dog Daycare & Spa in South Baltimore, is praised by her current and former bosses and friends as an animal rights activist and dog rescuer.
Police say she and the two other occupants of the home they raided in North Point sold marijuana, fought with neighborhood rivals and ran a dogfighting ring centered around their pit bulls – Dutch, Whezzy, Lucia, Bruno, Gotti and Kane.
Police said they found blood smeared on walls, weights, chains, collars, a treadmill, steroids, veterinary supplies and three aggressive pit bulls that showed signs of injuries.
Police charging documents portray Caruso’s role as that of a nurse treating injured patients – whether the dogs were forced to fight for bets or simply fought one another for fun, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Caruso worked most recently at the SoBo Dog Day Care, which opened last year in Locust Point. Prior to that, she spent two years as a veterinarian technician at Animal Medical Clinic on York Road in Timonium.
Her bosses at both places described her to Sun reporter Peter Hermann as a dog lover who rescued strays, patched wounds, and wrote articles on animal health for websites.
“It’s a huge shame, very heartbreaking,” said Nancy Jolle, the office manager of Animal Medical Clinic. “We’re kind of in shock. We don’t know what to think until they sort out the facts,” Jolle said.
At the SoBo Dog Day Care, owner Bill Link said customers raved about her work. “She has a fantastic following,” Link said. “I just can’t believe she did what they say she did because she’s such an advocate.”
Link reiterated what several of Caruso’s neighbors have said in her support – that she bought the treadmill for $30 on Craigslist to lose weight, not to train her dogs to fight.
Caruso has been released on $125,000 bail.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 31st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal medical clinic, animals, arrest, baltimore, baltimore county, dog, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, drugs, locust point, marijuana, nichole caruso, north point, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, police, sobo dog daycare & spa, timonium