This Virginia Beach fire dog is hot on the trail
Posted to: Community News Life Pets Virginia Beach
The Virginia Beach Fire Department's ranks have grown one larger with its latest graduate from the ATF Canine Training and Operations Center in Front Royal.
Pepe joins his new partner, fire investigator Robert Putz. An 18-year veteran of the fire department, Putz has a new friend for life.
"He goes everywhere with me," Putz said. Pepe is Hampton Roads' only "accelerant detection canine" certified by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Putz and his dog can respond to investigations in a large area, including Richmond and the Eastern Shore. They also can be called to help anywhere in the world, anytime, as part of the ATF's National Response Team and other federal bureaus.
"The Virginia Beach Fire Department partnered up with the ATF," Putz said. "They agreed to have a dog in our city. I agreed and the fire chief agreed to let me go and get this tool to help save money and time."
Pepe is trained to recognize 22 different accelerants, such as lighter fluid and diesel, Putz said.
"No mechanical device can pick up what this dog can," he said.
Pepe got to show his stuff Feb. 16 with a demonstration using several tests.
One of the assignments was to find a tiny drop of lighter fluid placed on a Q-tip and set out in a football field.
"He will find it within three to four minutes," Putz said.
And as promised, he did.
Pepe isn't the only one learning with his new team.
"The dog is training us to recognize when he is hitting on an accelerant and his reactions to the accelerants," Putz said.
This canine not only can respond to fire investigations, but can perform people searches to help eliminate suspects in arson cases.
"This new tool in arson investigation will save time and money," said Putz, adding that he hopes Pepe also acts as a deterrent to crime.
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Congrats Pepe, a fire dog! I am so impressed!