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September 27, 2016

Two new arson dogs join state's team

Canine officers Mickey and Willie are the two latest additions to the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office. The recent arrival of the two specially trained and certified Belgian Malinois brings the elite canine team up to its full capacity of five.

Commonly referred to as arson dogs, the animals are trained to detect even the smallest trace of ignitable liquids, such as gasoline or other accelerants, which may have been used to start a fire. Each dog is paired with a human handler, with whom they live and travel to fire scenes around the state. Handlers are law enforcement officers who have been trained to investigate fire incidents. Mickey is paired with Sgt. David Rives and Willie is paired with Sgt. Thomas Cooley. Mickey replaces Saxon, who is enjoying retirement in Sgt. Rives’ home.

The dogs are trained to be passive alert. That means once the dog senses the presence of a possible accelerant, the dog will sit down and not move from the site until rewarded and told to do so. For their work, the dogs are rewarded with a toy rather than food, to make sure the results are based solely on accelerant detection. 

Related: Retired fire scene dogs find lifelong homes with handlers

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Last updated: 9/27/2016