Accelerant detection dog in Iowa helps investigate arsons
Aug. 12, 2017
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — An accelerant detection dog in northeast Iowa has had a busy first year sniffing around fires.
Radar joined Waterloo Fire Rescue in May 2016, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported .
The golden retriever and yellow lab mix has investigated the charred remains of 30 fires to determine if there are any traces of flammable fluids.
His partner, City Fire Marshal Chris Ferguson, then collects samples from areas Radar highlights and sends them for testing at the state crime lab.
The evidence Radar finds can be used in trial or to help get a guilty plea, Ferguson said. Only one of Radar's arson cases have gone to trial so far, he said.
The case involved a vehicle that was found burning in October. The car owner's ex-boyfriend was convicted of second-degree arson in March.
Radar also assisted on a case in June that involved four vacant houses and a storage building that were set on fire. The dog visited each scene to gather evidence. One person was arrested in connection to the arsons and is awaiting trial.
Ferguson said it's rewarding whenever lab results find traces of flammable fluids in samples Radar finds. He said it's an indication that the pair's training and work has paid off.
"He's definitely helped obtain solid physical evidence," Ferguson said.
A $25,000 grant from State Farm and $10,000 from the Black Hawk County Attorney's Office helped the department get Radar.
Cedar Rapids and Council Bluffs are the only other cities in Iowa that have an accelerant-sniffing dog.
Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com