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Gilbert's arson detection dog lends helping paw to investigators

Gilbert Arson Dog.png
Posted at 6:30 PM, Oct 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 21:34:54-04

GILBERT, AZ — According to investigators, Monday's deadly house fire in Tempe was not an accident.

It's unclear what started the flames but officials said a canine positively detected accelerants inside the home.

"Zeta is trained on those accelerants," said David Zehring, an investigator with the Gilbert Fire Department.

As ABC15 previously reported, Zeta is the only ATF-certified arson dog in the state.  

According to Zehring, Zeta knows about 30 different odors that are related to accelerants. 

"This Tempe case was pretty complex," he said.

"We have to give her breaks periodically but she was able to go through that scene relatively quickly and help us locate evidence that was crucial to the case," Zehring added.

According to Zehring, he and Zeta usually go out a few times a month to help other jurisdictions. However, they've been called out five times in the past two weeks.

Zeta is also part of a national response team and has been mobilized to places like Albuquerque and Chicago.

She also helped investigators with an arson incident at a fire at an Amazon building in Goodyear.

"She found key evidence in those million square feet," said Zehring.

"It led to a suspect and that suspect is up for charges right now," he added.

Zeta is the second ATF-certified arson detection dog the Gilbert Fire Department has used. The previous dog, Spring, retired in 2019.

She currently lives with Zeta and Zehring.