Darlington County Fire District gets arson dog

Chief Flowers and Cato, courtesy of Darlington County Fire District

HARSTVILLE, SC (WBTW) – The Darlington County Fire District’s Arson Investigation team will introduce its newest four-legged member this Friday.

Canine Cato, a year old female yellow Labrador retriever, and Chief Ricky Flowers recently completed a four week canine-accelerant detection program sponsored by State Farm and certified by the Maine State Police/Maine Criminal Justice Academy.

The dog has been trained to alert their human partner to the presence of ignitable liquids that may have been used to intentionally start fires. Previously, what would take investigators days or weeks can be done in less than an hour with a trained dog.

“We want to support the efforts of the Darlington County Fire District to douse arson fires and put criminals behind bars,” said State Farm Spokesman Roszell Gadson in a press release.  “The scope of arson goes beyond impacting insurance companies – it affects the personal and financial well-being of us all.”

Cato is one of the more than 380 arson dog teams in the United States and Canada sponsored by State Farm and trained by Maine Specialty Dogs. The National Fire Protection Association says an estimated 280,000 intentional fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year, that cause 420 deaths, 1,360 injuries and $1.3 billion in direct property damage. The actual number of arson fires and amount of property damage is likely much higher as arson is an under-reported crime.

 

Information above is from a submitted press release.