After arresting a suspect trying to flush his stash of meth down the toilet earlier this month, the Loretto Police Department in Tennessee posted on Facebook warning people against doing the same, as the drugs could leak into nearby bodies of water and create “meth-gators.”
The post went viral, generating dozens of news reports from New Zealand to China and causing the police force to feel the need to issue a clarification: They were just joking—drug-addicted alligators don’t really exist (that they know of).
“Alas, the meth-gator is not real,” they said in a Facebook post on July 19. “Let’s say that again: THE METH GATOR IS NOT (at this time) REAL. We’ve had to explain that to our cousins across the pond twice.”
Loretto Police Chief Bobby Joe Killen told ABC News that the comment about meth-gators was meant to be a lighthearted way to get people to pay attention to the real message: Don’t flush drugs down the toilet.
“We take our job seriously, but we like to joke amongst ourselves at the department,” Killen said. “When you work eight, 10-hour shifts in our line of work, there are times when we like to laugh a little bit. Otherwise, you take problems home.”
Though Killen doesn’t know of any reports of methed-up animals in the area, gators or otherwise, there are definitely drug-addicted animals elsewhere in the world. One Australian prison even launched a program where staff and inmates help rehabilitate animals like pythons, bearded dragons, and blue-tongue lizards rescued by police during meth-lab raids or found in the area. What does a meth-python act like? Ian Mitchell, a senior overseer for the facility, told The Telegraph the python was more aggressive, confused, and erratic than normal.
The Loretto Police Department is planning to turn the worldwide misunderstanding into a philanthropic endeavor, and they’re hoping to launch a website soon where you can purchase shirts and other items that feature themes from their funniest meth-gator posts. All the proceeds will go to a local charity that supports children affected by drug use.
[h/t ABC News]