By Mike Meno
Has it really come to this?
According to today’s Baltimore Sun, a new business in Maryland is offering parents the services of trained, drug-sniffing dogs. Parents who are concerned about their children hiding drugs at home – and apparently unable to have simple, honest and well, healthy conversations with their kids about drugs – can, for “about $200 an hour,” rent specially trained canines to come into their homes and “within seconds, detect even the tiniest whiff of narcotics.”
Gimme a frickin’ break.
This approach is so stupid that even a spokesperson for the National Institute of Drug Abuse (a prohibitionist stronghold) was quick to say so.
The best way for parents to handle a child’s potential drug problem begins with a good old-fashioned conversation rather than a drug-sniffing dog, says Elizabeth Robertson, the National Institute on Drug Abuse‘s chief of prevention research.
“Given everything we know about substance abuse prevention, what you want to do with your kids is build trust and communication,” she says. “This seems like a tactic that would disrupt trust.”
[…] Baltimore parent Genny Dill agrees with Robinson. Upon hearing of the service, she says slowly, and with increasing notes of incredulity, “No. Really? Crazy. Absolutely crazy. That’s a whole new level of distrust.”
The mother of a 17-year-old girl, Dill says she has no trouble peeking at her daughter’s text messages and e-mail. Though she’s wondered if her daughter has tried pot, or been offered drugs, Gill is fairly certain that by hiring a drug-sniffing dog, she’d ruin their relationship.
“They’re never going to love you again,” she says. “Well, maybe they’d love you, but they will seriously not trust you as a parent, and when they’re teenagers, that’s a terrible time for that to happen.”
Sadly, the true motivation behind such an enterprise – which is modeled after similar businesses in other states, according to the article – is almost certainly not a concern for the wellbeing of young people, or for healthy parent-child relationships, but rather, good, old-fashioned profit. The business, “Dogs Finding Dogs,” has been around for three years and “until now has used the skills of search dogs to find missing pets,” according to the Sun, “helping to reunite nearly 300 wayward dogs and cats with their frantic owners.” Somewhere along the line they probably realized they needed to expand their business model, and luckily many of their canine employees were equipped with a particular skill – finding drugs!
Among the program’s supporters is Michael Gimbel, a Baltimore County substance abuse counselor who has repeatedly spoken out against passing a medical marijuana law in Maryland (and whose latest DVD is on sale for just $59.95 plus shipping!).
One thing not mentioned in the article is how many parents have actually paid for the service of having strangers and dogs comb through their property, alienate their children, and violate their privacy. I hope the number is low, if not zero. (And, by the way, if there aren’t any customers, then this article amounts to nothing more than free advertising for a business trend that does not yet even exist).
As for the dogs – well, at least the people looking for drugs aren’t shooting them this time.