Local arson dog is a rare breed of crime-fighter - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Local arson dog is a rare breed of crime-fighter

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) — San Diego Fire Captain James Shadoan is better known to fellow fire fighters as "Emily's handler."  

3-year-old Emily is one of just 52 dogs in the United States capable of solving an arson investigation.  

"Emily is actually solving crimes across the nation, I mean legitimately has broken some cases, " said Rachel Laing, Board of Directors of the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation

Emily flies all over the country with Shadoan. In San Diego, she tipped police off in their search for a man setting homeless on fire last summer.  

So how does she do it? 

"The only way she eats is out of my hand, 100% of the time and when she trains," Shadoan said. 

Emily has never eaten from a dog bowl.  

Instead, she earns each piece of food she eats following Shadoan's command to seek. 

"She'll alert to the accelerant by sitting, when she sits she gets paid - meaning I'll give her a few kibble," said Shadoan.  

He then says, "Show me." 

"She has to pinpoint exactly where that accelerant is," he said.  

From there Captain Shadoan takes over, collecting samples and sending it off to the crime lab. 

Though Emily is still playful at heart, she is working hard around the clock.

How many times a day does she actually have to train?

"Emily will train twice a day, sometimes more if we get called out to a scene," said Shadoan. "We'll train different places all the time from open fields to junk yards for vehicle fires, structure fires anything we may possibly get called out to, we train on." 

Emily is on loan to the San Diego Fire Department from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. 

She and Captain Shadoan must get re-certified every year in order for her to stay in San Diego. 

But she's nearly halfway to her retirement and when that day comes: 

Shadoan can buy her for $1 and plans to give her a giant bowl of food.  

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