Crown Point Fire Rescue is adding another resource to its toolbox: an accelerant detection canine.
K-9 Sophie joined the ranks of Crown Point Fire Rescue on May 2. The arson canine and her handler Fire Investigator Todd Bennett have already investigated fires in Northwest Indiana.
Bennett and K-9 Sophie showed off their skills Thursday morning during an Arson Awareness Week demonstration for city leadership and local State Farm representatives, including State Farm agent Mark Jonas, State Farm agent Michelle Brown and Katherine Hufnagl, a team member for State Farm agent Dominic Candeloro.
“In Crown Point, we put a paramount on public safety. Our public safety officials do a fantastic job protecting and serving our community — this just adds to it,” Crown Point Mayor Pete Land said. “This is a regional tool. Arson detection dogs are rare, not only will K-9 Sophie and Fire Investigator Bennett help the citizens of Crown Point, but we can assist the Region. I can’t thank State Farm enough, you guys do a fantastic job. This is such a great program.”
This is the first arson dog in Crown Point Fire Rescue history. Currently, K-9 Sophie is the only active accelerant detection canine in Northwest Indiana.
In April, Bennett and K-9 Sophie underwent four weeks of training in Maine, graduating from Class No. 55 of the State Farm Arson Dog Program. K-9 Sophie was funded through a $25,000 grant from State Farm. The grant paid for training for both Bennett and K-9 Sophie, travel expenses, food and lodging. Bennett and K-9 Sophie were the only graduates from Indiana.
Bennett also has received donations from local businesses for K-9 Sophie, including Austgen, Kuiper, Jasaitis P.C.; Balemaster; D&L Wood Products, Inc.; Diamond Peak Homes; Macqueen Emergency; and Willy Works.
“I have been investigating fires since 2014,” Firefighter/Paramedic Bennett said. “I became a firefighter to help others in need and working with K-9 Sophie takes that mission to a new level. While our work is fire-related, we will be able to see both sides of the call. In addition to putting out fires, we can also help catch those responsible for intentionally setting fires. It’s a win-win