Fired Up About State Farm® Arson Dog Class No. 52
14 new arson dog teams training in 2020
Fire is devastating for any homeowner, small business or community. While most are accidental, fires started with gas or fuel to destroy property is a crime. Thanks to the State Farm Arson Dog Program, fire investigators have a secret weapon to locate evidence when arson is suspected.
Arson dogs are trained to work with a human handler and find evidence at fire scenes. The dogs are searching for accelerants such as gas, oil or fuel used to start fires. State Farm is the only company in North America that provides funding for the training of arson dog teams.
The State Farm Arson Dog Program is available to fire departments and law enforcement agencies across the United States. Since its beginning in 1993, the program has placed more than 425 dogs in 46 states, three Canadian provinces and the District of Columbia.
Arson is one of the most difficult crimes to solve, as the evidence literally burns up. Insurance fraud causes billions of dollars in damage each year. In fact, many police and fire departments are seeing an increase in suspicious fires because of business closures, financial challenges and social disruption.
"Fire investigators should have every tool possible to combat this deadly crime," said Heather Paul, State Farm Arson Dog Program Coordinator. “These dogs help fire investigators to do their job. Arson dog teams can quickly locate evidence of accelerants such as gasoline or fuel used to start a fire.”
Meeting and training with a new best friend
All of the dogs are Labrador retrievers and come from animal rescues or disability assistance programs. The dogs are trained months before they meet their human handler and must work for every meal. When the dog smells fuel, they sit down and point with their nose. Their “reward” is a handful of dog food and praise. They can locate accelerants quickly, even if it is buried under debris.
Canine handlers are police detectives or fire investigators. The training class is four weeks long and the handlers know it will be intense. Over the four weeks, the handler and dog will repeat training drills multiple times a day. Food reward dogs only eat from the hand of their handler so these training drills will be repeated multiple times a day for the life until the dog retires.
Following a month of classes and drills, the arson dog teams are tested and certified by the Maine State Police. Once certified, the teams travel back to their communities to begin investigating fires. The dogs live in the home of their handler and they retire in the home of their handler. For the men and women training in the program, working with a dog is a career highlight.
Congratulations to the newly certified teams in Class No. 52!
- Fire Chief Billy Dillon & K-9 Piper - Howe Springs Fire Rescue (Florence, SC)
- Special Agent Michael Kuban & K-9 Phantom - Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (Springfield, IL)
- Special Agent Kenny Arnold & K-9 Gunny - Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (Springfield, IL)
- Special Agent Jeff Pride and K-9 PJ - Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (Springfield, IL)
- Captain Stephanie Schofield & K-9 Jennifer - Rawlins Fire Department (Rawlins, WY)
- Fire Inspector John Neeb & K-9 Mika - West Fargo Fire Department (West Fargo, ND)
- Fire Investigator Thomas Cantola & K-9 Maya - Girard Fire Department (Girard, OH)
- Fire Investigator Brian Acors & K-9 Erny - Richmond Fire Department (Richmond, VA)
- Arson Investigator Darren Jurado & K-9 Brownie - Compton Fire Department (Compton, CA)
- Fire Investigator Lee Maness & K-9 Vinny - Cobb County Fire and EMS (Marietta, GA)
- Detective Michael Douglas K-9 Ruthie - State of Florida, Division of Investigative & Forensic Services (Tampa, FL)
- Detective Cody McIntyre & K-9 Rico - State of Florida, Division of Investigative & Forensic Services (Tallahassee, FL)
- Firefighter Brent Autry & K-9 Tony - Milan Fire Department (Milan, TN)
- Assistant Fire Chief Jim Kanavy & K-9 Mikey - Scott County Fire Department (Georgetown, KY)
Arson Dog Calendar
Each of this year's class of K-9 crime-fighters is featured on one of the calendar pages below. Click to download.
In the News:
- West Fargo Pioneer: Fire corner: Welcoming Mika to the team (09/30/20)
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