Illinois updating skills for its arson dogs

National News

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – llinois’ arson dogs are being put to the test.

“Arson is one of the most difficult crimes to solve because the evidence literally burns up,” said Heather Paul, State Farm Arson Dog program coordinator.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s unsolvable; it just means you’ll have to use all your senses to find those hidden clues.

“Human investigators can’t necessarily go into a fire scene and know instantly how that fire started,” Paul said. “Their nose can’t smell where an accelerant may have been used.”

But with a little help, a four-legged friend can find a lot.

“He is my fourth partner and by far my most rambunctious,” said Greg Vespa, Illinois State Fire Marshal.

It takes a lot of training to be a certified arson dog.

Illinois only has seven dogs with these special skills.

At present, Sadie with the Belleville Fire Department and Ross with Illinois State Fire Marshal’s East St. Louis office, are testing for their recertification. They are trained to detect gasoline, kerosene, and diesel fuel among other accelerants that may be indicative of arson.

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