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The West Fargo Fire Department is excited to welcome K-9 Mika, to the department and to the community. This four-legged K-9 has a nose-up on arsonists and is planning on using her skills to sniff out the causes of fires.
“An arson dog extends the capabilities of the investigator,” said West Fargo Fire Department Deputy Chief of Professional Standards Tom Clark. “The scent-discriminating abilities of a canine are better than any equipment we can take to a fire scene when arson is suspected. The time our investigators spend sifting through the rubble at a fire scene will be significantly reduced with Mika’s help. We’re grateful for this important addition to our team.”
K-9 Mika is an accelerant detection specialist, certified according to the standards of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. She and her handler, West Fargo FD Arson Investigator John Neeb, recently graduated from the State Farm Arson Dog Training Program. The team will investigate fires in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.
“This team means a great deal to our community and the fire department,” said local State Farm Agent Ryan Kill. “The scope of arson goes beyond impacting insurance companies – it affects the personal and financial well-being of us all. Training dogs to detect accelerants at fire scenes saves time and money in arson investigations.”
Investigator Neeb and K-9 Mika will start participating in investigations immediately. Look for them around town and at the central station where they are housed. Inspector Neeb is looking forward to a time in the near future (once it’s safe to do so) when he can conduct a public demonstration showcasing Mika’s amazing accelerant detection sniffing abilities.
Mika is the second arson dog in service in North Dakota. Mandan Fire Department Captain Shane Weltikol and his Arson K-9 Webbster were partnered and trained in 2017 and have been investigating fires in the state and Canada since.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 280,000 intentional fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year, with associated annual losses of 420 civilian deaths, 1,360 civilian 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 underreported crime. Arson dogs played a key role in helping to determine the cause of many of these fires.
For more information about the Arson Dog Program visit the website at www.arsondog.org.