New pot law takes Yakima's drug dogs off the streets

New pot law takes Yakima's drug dogs off the streets
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Man's best friend can have a reliable nose for crime, especially drugs. Now, Yakima Police Department's only two drug sniffing dogs are off the streets following the legalization of pot.

The dogs were trained to find pot and the city didn't want to spend the money it would take to train them again.

"The dog can't distinguish between recreational, legal marijuana and illegal marijuana," said Yakima City Manager Tony O'Rourke.

The problem is the dogs trained to smell pot will bark at people now allowed to have it.

A memo from the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys sent in December indicated narcotics dogs were no longer required to be trained to detect pot.

"In the meantime, what does this mean for Yakima to go without Narcotics dogs on the streets?" KIMA asked.

"Well, it's not plus," said O'Rourke. "But, at the same time, we can continue to do our job. Certainly the dogs were an important element, but not the only element."

It means YPD will not have the dogs to break drug cases involving methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin.

Earlier this year, YPD drug dogs were able uncover six kilos of coke and two kilos of heroin on a long-distance bus that came through the city.

Other police departments in the state decided to retrain their their dogs so they won't go after weed. Yakima opted against it.

"Imagine training a dog to do that job; that doesn't come easy or cheap?" KIMA asked.

"No, it's not only an expense but a labor intensive process," said O'Rourke.

Yakima plans to eventually bring back drug sniffing dogs, but there is no timeline.

The city will hold off until the state works out the kinks of the new drug law.

Regular K-9 patrols, however, remain on the YPD force. For now, that will have to do.

The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys says officers will no longer be able to rely only on a drug dog to determine probable cause for a search warrant.