Cloquet Firefighters Welcome Arson-Sniffing Dog

Posted at: 06/16/2013 7:20 PM
Updated at: 06/16/2013 10:49 PM
By: Laurie Stribling

The state's only accelerant detection dog now calls Cloquet home.

Wish, a lab and golden retriever mix, is the newest member of the Cloquet Area Fire District. She is an arson detection dog and is trained to sniff out accelerants.

Jason Maki is her handler and the two just got back from training about a month ago.

"She's trained on a gasoline," Maki said. "That's the only ways she eats. She's a food reward dog."

Maki uses a solution that is 50 percent evaporated gas to train Wish. He places the gasoline in different spots and then Wish is ordered to find it. When she does, that's when Maki gives her a hand full of dry food.

Wish alerts Maki of accelerant by sitting or laying. She can also point out the spot on command with her nose.

"She works 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Maki said. "You pull up to a fire scene and she knows it's time to go to work."

Wish is the only arson-sniffing dog in Minnesota. There are about 300 teams nationwide.

"She can go anywhere across the state at no charge from the fire departments," Maki said. "It's very likely we'll be traveling once the word gets out. We'll probably be very busy."

Maki said Wish is sponsored by State Farm Insurance. He also said accelerant detection dogs are 90 percent accurate compared to 30 percent accuracy using other methods.