Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Arson means starting a fire on purpose, and it is a bad and illegal thing to do.  I'm not just talking about making a fire in your fireplace.  I'm talking about burning down a whole building or a forest or something big like that.  You might wonder why people would want to be arsonists, but there are several reasons, and here are some of them:

1.  They might want to burn down their house so they can get the insurance money.
2.  They might want to burn down someone else's house because they are mad at that person.
3.  They might want to kill somebody by burning them up inside a house.
4.  They might kill somebody first and then burn down a house so it looks like the person died in the fire.
5.  They might be pyromaniacs, which are people who just like burning stuff down.  These people maybe can't help themselves because they have a mental problem, but setting fires is still arson and it's still illegal, so they shouldn't do it.

One bad thing about fires is that it's hard to tell if they happened by accident or if they were arson.  And this is because the evidence of how a fire started gets burned up.  So that's why people now use ARSON DOGS to help figure out how fires get started, because arson dogs are very clever and they are trained to sniff out the important evidence.

As I have told you before, dogs have a very superior sense of smell, so that is why they are good at this kind of work.  What an arson dog does is he goes into a building where there was a fire, and his handler lets him sniff around.  And what the dog is sniffing for is accelerants.  Usually, an accelerant is some kind of liquid stuff like gasoline or kerosene or lighter fluid, and this liquid makes a fire get started and burn fast, just like an accelerator makes a car go fast.

Anyway, when the dog has found an accelerant, he sits down and points to it with his nose.  Then his handler, who is trained to work with his dog to investigate arson cases, takes a sample from the place that the dog has pointed to.  This sample is sent to a laboratory, where the scientists figure out if it is really an accelerant or not, but about 90% of the time it is because dogs know these things.  So then the human investigator has to decide if the accelerant was probably put there on purpose to start the fire or if it just happened to be there by accident.

Arson dogs can start working on a job while the fire is still burning and it's way too hot to go sniff inside the building.  And how they start working is they just walk around where all the people are watching the fire, and sometimes the dog will find somebody with accelerant on his shoes or clothes, and it turns out to be the arsonist because people like to watch a fire burn, especially if they started the fire themselves.

Most of the dogs used as arson dogs are labrador retrievers.  I read on the internet that the reason labs are used is because they are better at sorting out the scents and figuring out which ones are the important accelerants.  I do not really believe that labs are better at this because I'm sure basenjis would be quite good at it, too.  But the other reason why labs are used is because they are "outgoing" and "love to work," which is not so true of basenjis, although it might be true of some basenjis.  Mostly, we basenjis pride ourselves on being free-thinkers instead of slavishly following orders.  Or at least Gabe and I do.

Anyway, I did find one picture of a German Shepherd arson dog, and here it is.

And also I found a bloodhound arson dog whose name is Little Arson Annie, and she works for the Texas Forest Service.  Annie's job is to find the bad people who start forest fires.  She can not only find accelerants where the fire started, but she can track the arsonist through the woods or to his car and then figure out which way the car went.  So she does tracking, like a regular bloodhound, but she only tracks arsonists.  There are some other arson dogs who help find people who start forest fires, but I don't know if they are all bloodhounds or not.  Maybe some of them are labs.

Okay, I guess that is all I have to tell you about arson dogs.  Just remember that if you are thinking about burning down some building or forest, you had better think twice because the arson dogs will get you!


  1. many of these dogs are a great part of the SAFD. and im sure that they mean a lot to them two. I'm writing and artical and just wanteed to know a little more about a Arson dog named kai.

  2. Dear J,
    Thanks for reading my blog entry. I don't know anything about an arson dog named Kai, but I hope you can find some information. Good luck with your article!