Minnesota has only one fire-accelerant detecting dog. Wish, the Labrador arson dog works hard investigating fires across the state.
On the last day of March, Wish traveled hours to investigate a fire in St. Cloud.
The yellow Labrador endured a two-hour drive at 3 in the morning. She came all the way from Cloquet with her handler , Jason Maki.
A fire had caused around $100,000 in damage to an apartment complex on Seventh Street that night, and the partners were needed immediately at the scene. They needed to determine whether gasoline, or any other accelerant, had been used.
When they arrived, Wish was all business.
“Well, first, it’s a dog. And a dog that’s been in a long car ride,” St. Cloud Fire Marshal Mike Post said. “The dog’s got to go relieve herself, and then normalize. (The handler) spends some time walking the dog, doing their routine.”
Arson investigator Jason Maki said that the Cloquet Area Fire District is the only department in the state with a certified accelerant-detecting dog. This means cities like St. Cloud need to bring him and Wish into town for high-profile, urgent cases.
In most cases, someone from the department will drive a piece of evidence to Cloquet and have the Labrador sniff it there.
“When you pull up to a fire scene, they know it’s time to work,” Maki said. “You open the window, they smell the smoke, and they’re ready to go.”
Like her predecessor in Cloquet, Nick, Wish is trained to sit down when she smells an accelerant. On the same day, Wish worked both on the scene of the fire and back at the police station.
While the case is still ongoing, a suspect has already been charged with first-degree arson.
This specific case was one of at least two suspected arsons investigated by the St. Cloud Fire Department in March alone. The St. Cloud Fire Department has used a Cloquet dog more than a dozen times. Post said he’s consistently impressed by the dogs’ ability.
“The only word I can use for it is ‘uncanny,’ ” he said. ”The nice thing is, when you get into debates with people, there’s all sorts of things that get brought into the discussion. When you work with a dog, it’s either it stinks or it doesn’t.”
An arson dog can also speed up a process that would otherwise include waiting for laboratory results.
“Sometimes it can take many man-hours to dig up a scene,” Maki said. “Wish can point out exactly where we need to dig, and it’ll take a third of the time it would normally take. They’re so valuable in that way.”
Hooray for this canine hero.
Source: SC Times