Canine teams graduate from special arson course

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Four dog handlers and their canine partners graduated from the New York State Academy of Fire Science's canine accelerant detection course. (New York State DHSES)

Four dog handlers and their canine partners just graduated from the New York State Academy of Fire Science and will soon investigate possible arson cases in the state.

"By pairing up experienced officials with these trained canines, we will speed up investigations, bring justice to victims and their families, and help make a safer, stronger New York for all," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

The four teams successfully completed an 8-week course in canine accelerant detection. During the course, the dogs and the handlers learned to sniff out the scent of liquids that may be linked to arson. The dogs are also trained to get used to boats, helicopters, elevators, escalators, bodies of water, and large groups of people.

Halli, a Labrador retriever, and Deputy Paul Davendonis are assigned to the Rensselaer County Sheriff's Office.

Pete, a Lab mix, and Fire Marshal Daniel Pagels are with the FDNY.

Taz, also a Lab mix, and Investigator Thomas Hetherington work in the state's Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

Chili, a German shorthaired pointer, and Investigator Edward Stevens are also assigned to Office of Fire Prevention and Control, which is part of the state's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

"We are proud to provide training and support to these teams so they can enhance the capabilities of their departments in their new role," Homeland Security Commissioner Roger Parrino said. "Congratulations to these four handlers and their canines on their graduation and thank you for your continued dedication to your department and the communities you serve."