A four-legged member of the St. Lucie County Fire District has a nose up on arsonists and uses those skills to sniff out the causes of fires. This special investigator is Camy, an accelerant detection canine (K-9) who partnered with Fire Investigator Joseph Cox during a four week canine-accelerant detection canine training school.
The program is funded by State Farm and is available to fire departments and law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada. Since its beginning in 1993, the program has placed more than 400 dogs in 45 states, three Canadian provinces and the District of Columbia.
All accelerant detection canine teams are trained by Maine Specialty Dogs. "We feel law enforcement officials should have every tool possible to combat this costly -- and sometimes deadly -- crime," said State Farm Agent Janine Tillman. “These K-9s enable investigators to do their job more efficiently and effectively.” And that's exactly what accelerant-detection dogs are – a tool to help on-the-scene arson investigations.
On Wednesday, May 15, 2019, Camy was sworn in and received her badge. "The dog will never replace the arson investigator," said Paul Gallagher, trainer – Maine Specialty Dogs. "The dog simply extends the capabilities. The scent discriminating abilities of a canine are better than any equipment we can take to a fire scene when arson is suspected."
Fire Departments seeking to obtain a dog through the program should be responding to at least 50 structure fires in their area each year. Fire Departments that participate in the program must be willing to invest the time and effort necessary to make it work successfully. "This isn't a program that's here today and gone tomorrow. We're looking at a commitment that could be five or 10 years long," Gallagher said. For more information about the Arson Dog Program visit www.arsondog.org