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K-9 ‘misty’ to Help Combat Arson in Central Florida

5/23/2005

CONTACT: 
Juan Bailey
(407) 893-3654        
 
ORLANDO—A 2-year-old black Labrador Retriever has joined the State Fire Marshal's Office to help combat arson-related crimes throughout Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Volusia, Brevard and Lake counties.  Misty is one of six certified arson dogs in the State Fire Marshal's Office, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, trained to sniff out accelerants used by arsonists. 
 
"These dogs love their work," said Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who also serves as State Fire Marshal. "And we love what they do for Floridians by giving us the evidence to arrest arsonists."
 
Last year, the Central Florida region responded to 931 requests for investigation – more than any other region in Florida – and ruled 599 of those fires were to be arson.  That represented a 9-percent increase in arson from the previous year.  
 
Statewide last year, the State Fire Marshal's Office made 454 arrests for arsons that caused more than $50 million worth of property damage and resulted in the deaths of 69 Floridians.
 
Trained in Alfred, Maine, by the Maine State Police, Misty and her partner, Detective Paul Paterson, will find out if an ignitable liquid has been used to set a fire.  Often when a substance such as gasoline is used, the residual amount after a fire is so small that only scientific equipment in a laboratory can detect it.  But the olfactory senses of a dog are even more sensitive than laboratory equipment.  State Farm Insurance Company has helped fund the state's Arson Dog Program since 1993. 
 
The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is the law enforcement branch of Florida's Division of State Fire Marshal whose mission is to prevent, discourage, investigate and prosecute arson and arson-related crimes to protect Florida's citizens and their property.

A reward of up to $2,500 may be offered for information leading to an arrest in any suspicious fire.  To report a possible arson, call 1-877-662-7766 (1-877-NOARSON).

Photo of Misty and Detective Paul Paterson is attached.