A dog’s breakfast of an argument

You know the drug warriors are getting nervous when their arguments get increasingly preposterous. Here’s a laugher from yesterday, courtesy of DEA chief Michele Leonhart:

Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, has a message for those considering legalizing marijuana: Please, think of Fido.

Testifying on the DEA budget during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Leonhart said she expected a number of things to happen after Washington and Colorado were allowed to go forward with the legalization of marijuana last year. What she didn’t anticipate was the impact on man’s best friend.

“There was just an article last week, and it was on pets. It was about the unanticipated or unexpected consequences of this, and how veterinarians now are seeing dogs come in, their pets come in, and being treated because they’ve been exposed to marijuana,” Leonhart said . . .

Leonhart was referencing a story in USA Today which noted that the effects of marijuana could make it more difficult for a dog to breathe or vomit up a product that could kill them, like butter. The USA Today article noted, however, that on its own “marijuana itself isn’t particularly harmful to dogs,” and that dogs typically won’t eat marijuana by itself.

The story referenced a 2012 study that found that two dogs who ate large amounts of marijuana-infused butter died, out of a sample of 125 dogs that were believed to have ingested marijuana.

So two incidents. And from those, Leonhart wants to play to your sympathies.

I’m not even sure where to begin. Maybe it’s best to just run off a list. So here’s a quick-and-dirty roundup of dogs killed by cops enforcing America’s prohibition of marijuana. The list is by no means comprehensive.

  • October 2012: Detroit police kill three dogs during a pot raid. Witnesses say the cops chased two of the dogs around to the backyard before killing them. Said one witness, ““They came in like they were shooting deer.”
  • May 2012: Police in Fulton, Mo., serve a pot warrant. Residents ask if they can cage their dog so it doesn’t get in the way. The police decline, then shoot the dog eight times, including twice with a shotgun. Witnesses say the cops then trained their guns on a crate of puppies before concerned neighbors confronted them. They found enough pot to merit a misdemeanor.
  • August 2009: A task force including agents from the FBI, LAPD, LASD, and DEA raids a medical marijuana dispensary in California. During the raid, they shot the owner’s dog.
  • November 2012: While on a pot raid in Memphis, one officer attempted to kill the suspect’s dog. He mistakenly shot and critically wounded another officer instead.
  • July 2008: During a mistaken pot raid, a SWAT team in Prince George’s County, Md., shoots and kills the two black Labradors owned by Berwyn Heights, Md. Mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife Trinity Tomsic. Though they eventually acknowledged that the had raided the wrong house, Prince George’s County officials never wavered from the position that killing the dogs was the right thing to do.
  • December 2008: While investigating a drug tip, undercover cops in San Diego shoot and kill a dog as it runs out toward them. A subsequent search turns up a small amount of “old” pot in the owner’s home.
  • September 2003: While serving a warrant on Freemon, California, medical marijuana patient Robert Filgo, police shoot his pet Akita nine times. Filgo wasn’t charged with any crime.
  • June 2013: Seconds after taking a battering ram to the door, police shoot and kill the rescue dog of Adam Arroyo in Buffalo. They found no drugs.
  • September 2007: Police in Ellicott City, Md., raid the home of Karen Thomas. While inside they shoot and kill her 10-year-old dog. The raid came after Thomas’ son sold a gram of pot to an undercover police officer.
  • September 2008: Police on a drug raid in Haltom City, Tex. shoot and kill a Jack Russell terrier.
  • July 2012: Police in Decatur, Ala., shoot a golden retriever while on a drug raid that turned up a small amount of marijuana.
  • April 2006: Police in Buffalo kill a boxer, a boxer puppy, and a pit bull during a pot raid. All are shot within view of a 1-year-old child. It’s part of a city-wide series of raids police dubbed “Operation Shock & Awe.” The police didn’t find any drugs.
  • November 2007: While on a pot raid, police in Accokeek, Md., shoot and kill Pearl, a five-year-old boxer belonging to Frank and Pam Myers. The police had raided the wrong house.
  • September 2003: Police in Eaton, Ohio conduct a pot raid on a farmhouse occupied by several college students. Upon entering, they immediately shot two of the men’s dogs. Moments later, they would also kill 23-year-old Clayton Helriggle. His roommate said he was unarmed. The police say he came down the stairs carrying a gun. The raid turned up a small amount of pot, but not enough for any criminal charges.
  • January 2008: During a pot raid in Howard County, Maryland, police shoot and kill a twelve-year-old lab/rottweiler mix named Grunt owned by Kevin and Lisa Henderson. According to the couple, one officer distracted the dog while another shot it in the head. The police arrested a house guest after finding a small amount of pot in his coat pocket.
  • May 2007: Responding to a complaint of drug use, a code enforcement team Stockton, California shot the dog of Kari Bailey. Fragments from the bullet struck Bailey and her 5-year-old daughter. The Baileys say the police got the wrong house.
  • February 2009: Chicago police kill a black labrador during a raid on the home of brothers Thomas and Darren Russell. As the raid began, one of the men asked if they could secure the dog. The police refused, then shot the dog. A federal jury later awarded the Russells $333,000.
  • August 2010: Police in Mendicino, California, serve a warrant targeted at a man suspected of manufacturing marijuana and meth. While serving the warrant, they shoot and kill an 8-year-old dog belonging to Anna White. The search turns up nothing to link White or the other residents to the suspect.
  • September 2006: Police handcuff a woman and her two young children during a pot raid, then shoot the family dog in front of them. The raid was precipitated by an alleged series of pot sales from the woman’s older son to an informant. The sales totaled $60. The police found no drugs in the house.
  • July 2011, police in Alameda County show up at the recording studio of paraplegic and chronic pain patient Jason Rivera. They’d received an anonymous tip that he was growing pot. Rivera got off lucky. They only threatened to kill his dog if he exercised his right to refuse a search and forced them to go to the trouble of obtaining a warrant.
  • February 2014: Police in South Tahoe, California shoot a dog during a raid that turned up 36 pot plants.
  • October 2005: Police in Alabama conduct a raid on a family in which officers shoot and kill the family’s two dogs, then crack jokes about the incident. The search turns up eight grams of pot.

As is the case with their human companions, the biggest threat marijuana poses to dogs doesn’t come from the drug itself. It comes from what the government does to enforce the laws that ban it.

I’ll conclude with a couple more examples, both of which include video. They’re also both from Columbia, Mo., one of the few jurisdictions where police were for a time recording these raids, and where state open records laws permitted the video to be released to the public. The first raid happened in March 2008, and resulted in two dead dogs. Though police would later claim they shot the dogs because the dogs threatened them, video prior to the raid shows the police discussing shooting the dogs in advance. The dogs are also shot as they flee the officers. Here’s the video: (Note: Some readers may find this video disturbing.)

 

The second video is from a raid in February 2010: Acting on an anonymous tip and a search of the family trash, police in the video are raiding the home of Jonathan Whitworth and Brittany Montgomery. As you’ll see (or rather, as you’ll hear), the immediately shoot and kill Whitworth’s pit bull. In the process, they also wound the family’s corgi. They found some pot, but not enough to charge Whitworth with a crime. Ironically, marijuana has been decriminalized in Columbia. But they did charge Whitworth for a pipe they found near the pot. Here’s the video: (Note: Some readers may find this video disturbing.)

 

Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."
SECTION: {section=opinions, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=opinions, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments
Next Story
Radley Balko | April 3