Partners Sniff Out Arson

The house had burned to the ground, and its embers still smoldered. Fire investigator David Doehler ’02 and Cadet worked the perimeter, but the Labrador’s well-trained nose detected no trace of accelerant. To himself, Doehler thought, probably not arson. But the next day, when the debris had cooled, they returned for a closer sniff at the foundation. This time, Cadet calmly sat down at the threshold, alerting Doehler that he’d picked up the odor of a flammable liquid. Tests of samples from the site proved that the fire had indeed been set, and the perpetrator was arrested and convicted. That was just one of many fire scenes Doehler and Cadet worked between 2004 and ’09 as the first dog-and-handler accelerant-detection team for the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue. Doehler, who earned a bachelor of liberal studies degree, had been a firefighter for 18 years and an investigator for another eight when he got the chance to work with an accelerant-detection dog. He … [Read more...]