New arson dog debuts in Delaware

A new dog is on duty to help Delaware fire investigators find evidence of arson.

K-9 Tanya and her handler Deputy State Fire Marshal John Galaska were officially introduced Thursday morning at the Delaware State Fire School in Georgetown. 

Galaska and Tanya recently finished a five week training at a canine-accelerant detection school sponsored by State Farm Insurance and certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. “Training dogs to detect accelerants at fire scenes saves time and money in arson investigations,” said State Farm’s Hunter Emory. “We want to help support the efforts of the Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office to douse arson fires in the First State.”

From July 2012 to June 2013, more than 5,000 fires were we reported to the State Fire Marshal. Over that time, there were 551 fire investigations. 189 of those fires were identified as criminal or suspicious. At 19 fire scenes, an accelerant was detected by a K-9 unit.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“The dog extends the capabilities of the investigator,” said Delaware State Fire Marshal Grover Ingle. “The scent-discriminating abilities of a canine are better than any equipment we can take to a fire scene when arson is suspected.”

Tanya and Galaska will take over for Delaware’s retiring arson dog Sparks and her handler, Deputy State Fire Marshal Brian Schad. Sparks, who was based in Dover, was nominated for the 2014 American Humane Association’s Hero Dog award.

Tanya and Galaska will work with all of Delaware’s municipal fire marshals to help in investigations in their jurisdictions. They will also be made available for out of state cases.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal