Paris Fire Dept. introduces four-legged investigator

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PARIS, TX -- A few years ago, investigators would spend days sifting through rubble and debris at fire scene to determine if it was an arson.

Today that work can be done in within a couple of hours with a trained arson dog and the Paris Fire Department now has one of their own.

Sadie, a yellow lab mix, is trained to sniff out arsonists. She will be the department's newest weapon in investigating suspicious fires.

"I think it's just a huge step in the right direction," said Sadie's handler and Paris firefighter Matt Jones. "I mean if you look at some of the suspected arson cases and the money that's involved with the loss, if we can put a stop to that even just through people knowing the dog is here now."

Jones completed a five week training in Maine to certify the canine in accelerant detection.

"It's something that a lot of departments don't have and so we are blessed to have it," said Jones.

To show off Sadie's powerful nose, the department performed a demonstration. After detecting an accelerant she is trained to sit, notifying her handler.

Fire Marshal Dale Maberry says having Sadie allows them to investigate suspicious fires more efficiently.

"I don't have to wait three or four hours or a day for a dog to come in from the state," said Maberry. "Those dogs are very good and do a very good job, this just makes us here and our town and community more efficient."

Matt and Sadie's training was sponsored by State Farm. Through their program they have placed over 300 arson dogs in fire departments across the nation.

"Being able to fight arson, being able to catch criminals and reduce future arson problems, that means that hopefully we will be able to hold the line on insurance rates." said State Farm representative Gary Stephenson.

Sadie has already been put to work, earning her paycheck. She's been on six calls and will not only assist Paris and Lamar County with arson investigations, but she will assist eight other counties in the area.

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