Picayune Fire Department introduces arson dog to department

Picayune Fire Department introduces arson dog to department

PICAYUNE (WDAM) - Picayune Fire Marshal Pat Weaver and his new partner "Izzy" will be introduced as the newest members of the Arson Investigation team Monday.

"Izzy," a one year old female black Labrador retriever, and Marshal Weaver, completed the four week canine-accelerant detection school sponsored by State Farm® and certified by the Maine State Police/Maine Criminal Justice Academy, according to a new release issued by the department.

Izzy is a certified accelerant detection canine who has been trained to locate the presence of ignitable liquids that may have been used to start arson fires. Izzy will showcase her abilities by doing a demonstration Monday.

Next week is the start of Arson Awareness Week. This will be Weaver's second canine partner. He has been working with K9 "Joanie" since September 2008. K9 Joanie is retiring from service.

"We want to support the efforts of the Picayune Fire Department to douse arson fires and put criminals behind bars," said State Farm Spokesman Roszell Gadson.  "The scope of arson goes beyond impacting insurance companies – it affects the personal and financial well-being of us all." Training dogs to locate accelerants at fire scenes saves time and money in arson investigations. A few years ago, investigators could spend days or weeks sifting through rubble at a scene.  Today, with a trained dog, the work can be done in less than an hour.

State Farm® has been a sponsor of the Arson Dog Program since 1993.  Cato is one of the more than 380 arson dog teams in the United States and Canada sponsored by State Farm and trained by Maine Specialty Dogs. Teams consisting of a dog and human handler assist local and state law enforcement officers with fire investigations.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 280,000 intentional fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year, with associated annual losses of 420 civilian deaths, 1,360 civilian injuries, and $1.3 billion in direct property damage.

The actual number of arson fires and amount of property damage is likely much higher as arson is an underreported crime. Arson dogs played a key role in locating evidence of arson in many of these fires, according to the news release issued by the department.