Meet Huey. He was to be one of five dogs to join the State Farm family at the Arson Dog Training Academy in Alfred, Maine. But Huey and his initial handler, Marion Sims, the first team from Hattiesburg, Miss., have an interesting story. While they didn’t have to sing the State Farm jingle for help, State Farm agent Ted Cannon, in Petal, Miss., was instrumental in helping Deputy Sims apply for the program. He showed them where to get the application, and even helped them fill it out and submit to the program.
”I’m very proud that State Farm is able to provide another valuable resource to the Hattiesburg community,” said Cannon.
But Huey’s story doesn’t end there. During the third week of training class, 18-month-old Huey decided he wanted to play instead of work, even though he and Marion had started to bond.
“Most people think when a handler arrives at the training school, they have a dog and are ready to start training,” said Heather Paul, Public Affairs Specialist who manages the program for State Farm. “But sometimes the personality of the handler and dog don’t mesh or in this case, Huey still wanted to be a puppy.”
But don’t worry about Huey – he isn’t out of the program. Huey will be placed with a handler in the 2013 classes after he gets out of his rebellious teenage stage.
And what about Deputy Sims? He completed training and graduated with Dazzy, another dog in the class, and the team worked a case within two days of returning to Mississippi.
Since 1993, State Farm has provided funding for the acquisition and training of more than 300 in 44 states, three Canadian provinces and the District of Columbia.
State Farm underwrites the program and works in conjunction with Maine Specialty Dogs and the Maine Criminal Justice Academy to train 10 canines and handlers each year.
Nearly all of the canines in the program are second-career dogs. For the fall 2012 training class, all of the canines were obtained from Paws with a Cause in Wayland, Mich. Paws with A Cause raises and trains disability assistance dogs. When they have a dog that is too active for their program, they work with State Farm arson dog trainer Maine Specialty Dogs to give the dogs a second chance to serve. This also keeps dogs out of animal shelters.
Here is the Fall 2012 graduating class:
- Firefighter Mike Manzo and K-9 Holly with the City of Longmont Fire Department in Longmont, Colo.
- Arson Investigator Kenny Arnold and K-9 Dollar with the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office.
- Deputy Marion Sims and K-9 Dazzy with the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department in Hattiesburg, Miss.
- Detective John Peters and K-9 Daisy with the Westchester County Police Department in Hawthorne, N.Y.
- Operations Chief Anita Shultz and K-9 Sadie with the Southwest Central Fire Territory in South Bend, Ind.