As the nation’s largest homeowner’s insurer, State Farm® is well aware of the severity of arson. Each year billions of dollars in property and hundreds of lives are lost as a result of intentionally set fires.
To help combat arson fraud and increase community awareness of the problem, State Farm has been providing financial support for the acquisition and training of an arsonist’s worst nightmare: accelerant detection canines, better known as the arson dog. Since 1993, the State Farm Arson Dog Program has put more than 325 dogs and their partners to work in 44 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces.
Arson dogs are trained to sniff out minute traces of accelerants (gasoline, lighter fluid, etc.) that may have been used to start a fire. Each arson dog works and lives with their handler, a law enforcement officer or firefighter trained to investigate fire scenes. The canines and handlers are required to complete four weeks of training in Maine, training every day during those four weeks. The intensive training school is led by Paul Gallagher, Owner and Head Trainer of Maine Specialty Dogs.
The State Farm Arson Dog Program was established with guidance from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. The Maine State Criminal Justice Academy is renowned for its training of canines and its national reputation in law enforcement investigation. Two decades later, all teams in the State Farm Arson Dog Program are still trained and certified according to Maine State Criminal Justice Academy standards.
Through education and knowledge, we can work together to make a difference and diminish the cost of this crime.
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- More than $1.3 billion in direct property damage due to intentionally set fires
- More than half (55%) of those arrested for intentionally set fires are under age 21
- Estimated 170 civilian deaths each year due to intentionally set structure fires
- An arson dogs’ nose can smell in parts per quintillion – more than 100 times better than a human nose
- Arson dogs are trained to sniff out more than 60 different ignitable petroleum based hydrocarbons.