RTD’s K-9 unit doesn’t have pot-sniffing dogs — it would be too complicated

staff photo

First things first, RTD’s K-9 unit doesn’t have dogs, plural — there’s just one. His name is Thor. Here he is with handler Amy Homyak.

Aw! (Courtesy of RTD)

Aw! (Courtesy of RTD)

And Thor is not trained to detect marijuana, which is actually important in our post-legalization age.

Colorado Public Radio reported on the interesting conundrum that local law enforcement agencies face with dogs trained to detect pot. (It’s worth your time, go read it.) Essentially, the problem is dogs can’t tell their handlers what substance they’ve detected, and that creates issues around legally admissible evidence, expectations of privacy and more.

Fortunately for RTD, they managed to circumvent that issue with Thor, a rescue dog from Alaska.

RTD Spokesperson Nate Currey says the agency can’t get more specifics about what Thor does detect — “We don’t want the public to know that, in case there are some bad guys out there,” he explained. But RTD is happy to have a dog that doesn’t require retraining with regard to marijuana — that would’ve been a big headache.

Plus, Thor’s presence has been a long time coming. RTD tried several times to get grant money from the Department of Homeland Security for a dog before finally landing a partial award in 2016.

Now, the agency has another tool for deterrence and detection work, and a dog is well-suited to RTD’s open system.

“RTD needs a K-9 unit because we have an open system with no screening,” handler Amy Homyak told RTD. “Thor gives us a huge advantage in our deterrence and detection work. Thor’s presence can help prevent a disaster before it occurs.”

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