Fresno Fire Department has a cuddly new crime fighter
Or a cuddly dog helping spread a fire prevention message in the community?
Why not the two of them?
The newest addition to the Fresno Fire Department is a flammable liquid detector dog, affectionately known as the Shilo. Fresno Fire investigator and Shilo dog handler Lee Wilding says every day is a training opportunity, but their partnership began with an intense month-long course out east through the State Farm Arson Dog Program. .
“The food pouch is his signal that now we’re in work mode,” says Wilding.
At a recent community event, Wilding demonstrated his training by placing drops of accelerator in certain parts of the room.
The pair searches the entire room clockwise.
“I monitor her behaviors. Sometimes she shows interest in an area or sometimes she sits down and gives a final alert and the areas we identify,” says Wilding.
Once identified, the samples are then taken to be transported to the laboratory.
This training is leveraged for high profile fires and suspected arson cases.
Just two months into his career with the Fresno Fire Department, Shilo has worked on 15 fires, identifying and alerting to flammable liquid odors.
His work includes the arson attack that claimed the life of a 7-year-old boy in Central Fresno on July 6.
Police Chief Paco Balderrama said an accelerator was detected on the front and back doors of the house.
Because this is an ongoing homicide investigation, we cannot detail Shilo’s findings or involvement, but his nose is trained to detect carbon-based fuels, including, but not limited to gasoline, kerosene and lighter fluid.
“We are very fortunate to have a resource like this in our agency to pick up cases like this,” Wilding says.
This is Fresno Fire’s fourth incendiary dog, made possible by State Farm.
Their program provides public agencies in the United States and Canada with dogs and training.
The intention is to fight against arson and arson for fraud.
“If Shilo uncovers at least one arson attack in the community, he pays more than the program itself,” says State Farm agent Nichole Castech.
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