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Phoenix Fire may get grant to get an "arson dog" to help solve fire crimes

Posted at 3:39 AM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 08:42:07-04

We have seen K-9s take down bad guys and sniff out where a suspect is hiding. But, there may soon be some new snouts hitting the streets that are used for a different kind of public service.

The city of Phoenix is expected to vote Wednesday morning on whether they will allow the Phoenix Fire Department to accept a grant from State Farm. That grant would allow the department to get a dog whose nose knows arson. 

State Farm's Heather Paul said that arson is usually a nearly impossible case to solve, leading to fraudulent felons getting away with it a majority of the time.

"That incredible nose that dogs have...that is their superpower," Paul said. 

That is why they are taking action by giving grants to departments around the country, including Phoenix, to purchase an "Accelerant Detection Canine."

"They're able to go into and very efficiently find where they may be evidence of a crime," Paul explained. "And hopefully we're able to put arsonists behind bars." 

These so-called arson dogs would be able to follow investigators into a blaze after it is deemed safe. Their job is to go in and determine how much of an accident the blaze really was. 

"The dog will walk through the fire scene and their alert to when they smell an accelerant is a passive alert," Paul described. "So, passive means that the dog will sit down on its rear and point with its nose where it may have smelled an accelerant."

Paul also said, this can benefit all of us, even if arson never happens to you personally.

"It causes a decrease in home values and an increase, a potential increase in insurance premiums," Paul said. 

These arson dogs are either saved from shelters or flunked out of canine classes to become police K-9s or therapy dogs. State Farm said they work closely with organizations around the country to find dogs who "fail" and give them another opportunity to serve, sometimes even saving them from the euthanasia list. 

From there, they will go through 200 hours of intense training before being given to a handler to live and work with around the nation. 

The cost for one of these trained pups is around $25,000, but the money will be given as a grant to the Phoenix Fire Department if the city council approves accepting the donation. 

If it passes, the process to get an animal will start next month. 

The dog will not only serve the Phoenix area, but will be deployed around the state to help solve cases.