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      Dog helps fire investigators combat arson across the Heartland

      Manâ??s best friend recently became the Iowa State Fire Marshalâ??s best resource for detecting accelerants people use to deliberately start a fire.

      â??The new tool that our office most recently acquired is a 23-month-old Goldador--part golden retriever, a part lab dog,â?? Special Agent for the Iowa State Fire Marshalâ??s office Jeff Shatzer said. â??Her name is Pogo, but what she's trained to do is to sniff for accelerants, so gasoline, lighter fluids, diesel fuels and everything in between.â??

      After undergoing 200 hours of training, Pogo can stiff through the rubble of a fire scene within 20 minutes, and she can sense nearly 25 kinds of flammable liquids.

      â??We are a certified K-9 team,â?? Shatzer said. â??We worked together, we went out to the state of Maine. State Farm Insurance sponsored this dog, paid for this dog, and paid for my 200 hours of training with her to be certified.â??

      Pogo alerts her handler to an accelerant by sitting down. Then Shatzer collects a sample and sends it to the Iowa Division of Investigation Crime Lab for testing and verification.

      "Once evidence is taken, depending on their workload at the time, weâ??re generally looking at two to three weeks to get results back from the DCI lab,â?? he said.

      The Ottumwa Fire Department is proactively working with the State Fire Marshalâ??s office to combat arson, which is the second leading cause of fires in Iowa, with kitchen and cooking fires taking the number one spot. This house located on the 1600 block of E. Locust Street, is the most recent case of arson here in the City of Bridges.

      â??It's great that I've got an accelerant K-9 45 minutes away,â?? Cory Benges, Chief Deputy, OFD, said. â??Just a phone call away, I can call Jeff anytime, and I know he'll be over and we can get the ball rolling on these cases a lot faster than in the past.â??

      Shatzer and his arson dog are based out of Mt. Pleasant and respond to local jurisdictions across the state.

      â??Pogo the first newer dog, sheâ??s the first more recent dog weâ??ve had,â?? Shazer said.

      By introducing Pogo to the community, fire investigators hopes this also cautions local arsonists.

      â??We have a lot of abandoned houses that may be tempting to get burnt down, but we're really trying to deter that,â?? Benges said.

      â??If you think about burning your house, for whatever reason, you know for fraud or whatever the case may be, think again because we do have this tool out there,â?? Shatzer said. â??She can sniff through a fire scene within 20 minutes and assist us in what would take us hours to be able to do.â??