The story that led Channel 31's newscast last night -- about dogs eating marijuana edibles -- was remarkable in a couple of ways.
The cutesy, goofy opus, which gobbled up the first five minutes of the newscast (see it below), was impossible to parody, since it pretty much satirized itself. Yet it made a joke out of something that could be potentially lethal, as Longmont-based emergency veterinarian Laura Higgins explained in our April 14 post about how marijuana can kill pets.
And there's nothing funny about a dead dog.
Reported by Heidi Hemmat, the Channel 31 piece began by talking about how it's easy to get free pot in Denver -- a gag that was extended until the end of the intro, when she revealed that the marijuana consumer that discovered this great opportunity was Luke, a dog. Hemmat then quizzed Luke's owner and vet, both of whom were concerned that the dog had suffered a stroke until a blood test revealed the presence of THC he'd ingested by eating a marijuana muffin tossed out by a nearby dispensary.
At that point, Hemmat declared that Luke was stoned -- a revelation mirrored visually by a dopey video effect and musical sting reminiscent of '60s era flicks like Psych-Out. The same effect was used later in conjunction with footage of a chihuahua staggering around.
Throughout, Hemmat used pot references, declaring, for example, that Luke was simply high and just needed to come down. This tone was continued after the report, with Libby Weaver and Ron Zappolo chortling as if they'd gotten into the marijuana muffins, too.
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That was only one of many mixed messages in the report. The vet interviewed in the Fox 31 story noted that she's seeing a couple of marijuana intoxication cases per week, adding that when medical personnel don't know what's causing a dog's illness, the resulting treatment can run into the thousands of dollars -- a serious amount of money. Likewise, Hemmat touched on the potential need for regulation concerning the way dispensaries dispose of marijuana, although that topic was lost amid the silliness.
More problematic was the suggestion that dogs get high in much the same way humans do. But according to Longmont vet Higgins, there's no evidence that canines experience any kind of euphoria. Instead, they get very, very ill depending on the amount of marijuana they ingest. While Higgins hasn't personally had a dog pass away due to marijuana toxicity, she tells a story about an owner who initially thought the situation was humorous but soon discovered otherwise. By the time the dog arrived at the clinic, it was "comatose, nearly dead."
Imagine how hilarious Channel 31's package with that surprise ending. Check out the piece below: