Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Guide Dog Rejects Find Gainful Employment

by Elizabeth Ryan 

Tags: Spirituality, dogs, arson dogs, guide dogs, The Bark, Elizabeth Ryan,

barkFMArson dogs have been around for decades, but in a recent article in The Bark, they get some long overdue recognition.

In the U.S. and Canada there are some 200 arson dogs. They are spread thin among 41 states, Washington D.C., and three provinces in Canada. Lisa Wogan notes that they can smell in parts-per-quintillion, which helps them find fire-starting fluid scents even when they are obscured. Their sniffing powers are so sharp, she writes, “If you were to make a Molotov cocktail, you’d have to wash your hands at least 17 times before a dog would be unable to detect traces of petroleum on your skin.”

And they’ve helped convict people of murder. Wogan tells the story of a house fire that killed three small children and was originally thought to be accidental, but after an arson dog detected 12 places where it thought the fire was started, investigators looked closer and the children’s parents were convicted. As one source tells Wogan, “There is nothing in the pipeline that can equal the scent-ability of the dog that we can take to fire scenes and use.”

Another surprising tidbit: Many arson dogs are actually guide dog rejects. Wogan writes that one dog “had to find a new career when he slipped a hamburger right off the table in front of a blind person.”

Source: The Bark (article not available online)