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State Farm® and American Humane® Celebrate Canine Heroes

Here Comes the Judge! Pennsylvania Fire Dog Is 2016 Arson Dog of the Year

There is crime-fighting hero protecting the citizens of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. His name is Judge and his super nose helps find evidence at fire scenes.

Arson K9 Judge is a 7-year-old, yellow Labrador retriever. He has been in service since early 2011. His handler and partner, Allentown Fire Chief Lee Laubach, met Judge for the first time in the spring of 2011. That's when they first began training together through the State Farm Arson Dog Program. They have been investigating fires for the Allentown Fire Department ever since. In 2016, the duo were recognized as the Arson Dog of the Year during the annual American Humane Hero Dog Awards™.

Paws for a Cause in Wayland, MI raised him to be a disability assistance dog. At a year old, it became apparent that Judge’s enthusiastic work drive and personality wasn’t a service dog fit. However, he did have a strong prey drive – the desire to chase and find things. This made him ideal for accelerant detection. He went to Maine to train for a career change.

As an arson dog, Judge is thrives in three major areas: investigation, deterrent, and education. As an investigator, Judge has worked over 275 fire scenes. The evidence he found has led to multiple criminal arrests and civil penalties for fraud cases.

As a deterrent, the numbers speak for themselves. Arson fires have dropped 53% since began service in Allentown. Media reports of his assignment led to quick closure of a recent case. Juveniles who set a house fire returned to the scene of the crime. When they saw Judge, they confessed and turned themselves in to detectives. They knew it was just a matter of time before they were caught.

As an educator, Judge has done nearly 540 fire safety programs. Crime watch groups, specialty dog shows, elementary and high school programs are among the audiences for his demonstrations. Chief Laubach gets calls from parents letting him know their children remind them to change the smoke alarm batteries – because “Judge said so!” The Allentown Fire Department even also has a pilot program where Judge helps convey safety messages to autistic children. He has been instrumental in making the entire Lehigh Valley and neighboring communities more aware of fire and life safety.

Intentionally set fire losses cost billions of dollars in property and hundreds of lives annually. State Farm helps combat arson fraud and assists law enforcement investigations through its Arson Dog Program. Since 1993, 370 dogs and their partners have gone through the program. An “arsonist’s worst nightmare”, they work in 44 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces.

State Farm has also been a sponsor of the American Humane and the Hero Dog Awards since 2012. The annual event recognizes and celebrates the contributions and bravery of canines. Eight amazing dogs took home top honors in their individual categories. Named as the overall 2016 American Hero Dog of the Year was an English Mastiff named Hooch. He overcame horrific abuse and disfigurement and became an inspiration for autistic, abused, and special needs children. All of the heroic canines and their human partners joined celebrity guests in Beverly Hills, CA, this past September. The emotional awards ceremony aired October 28 on the Hallmark Channel.

2016 American Humane Hero Dog Awards Category Winners

Emerging Hero Dog category and 2016 American Hero Dog of the Year

Arson Dog category (sponsored by State Farm)

Guide/Hearing Dog category

  • Hook (Sacramento, CA)

Law Enforcement Dog category

Military Dog category

Search and Rescue Dog category

Service Dog category

Therapy Dog category



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