Cocos Fire arson dog up for big award - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Cocos Fire arson dog up for big award

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CHULA VISTA (CBS 8) - She's the best in the west. An arson fighting canine has been named top dog in Southern California.

Her name is Cali and she's been nominated for a Hero Dog Award. She's the only arson dog from this region to be considered for the title.

Cali is a "goldador" – she's half Labrador, half golden retriever. She might look cute, but she's actually crucial to arson investigators here in Southern California.

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"She's the only one in San Diego County, and there's only about three or four in the entire state," firefighter Darin Golden said.

Cali and Darin have been together for almost four years, and have formed a strong bond. They live together, and train with one another daily. They've worked nearly 100 arson fires both near and far.

"She's a western region resource. We go out of state. We go all over San Diego County and help local fire departments," Darin said.

Most recently, Cali was brought in to investigate the Cocos Fire. The cause is under investigation, which is why Darin can't say what she found, if anything at all. But it's work like that which has led to Cali being nominated for a Hero Dog Award, a national competition sponsored by State Farm.

"It's going to be in Beverly Hills at the end of September, with stars. We want to make sure she is recognized as the hero she is," Jordi Ortega of State Farm said.

At the Chula Vista training facility Friday, Darin showed us just how talented Cali is. He placed single drops of gasoline in three places. Within 30 seconds of entering the burned out structure, Cali went right to where she needed to be. The tough part, her handler said, is helping Cali decipher between products made out of accelerants like water bottles and ones that actually start fires, as well as knowing where to start.

"Real fire scenes are a little bit different because I don't know where the accelerant is. Unlike training where I put it down, I just have to trust her," Darin said.

It's a challenge Cali always seems to overcome, and the main reason she deserves a Hero Dog Award.

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