Arson investigating dogs are solving crimes and saving you money

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CAHOKIA, IL (KTVI) - They're considered arson investigators, but they don't look like them. These dogs are solving deadly crimes and saving you money.

A dog's nose is 100 times better than a humans. When it comes to picking up traces of accelerants in the remains of a fire the dogs are an arsonist's worst nightmare.

Rocky is no ordinary Yellow Lab. He is an arson dog and his snout is trained to detect 61 different types of accelerants like gasoline. He sniffs through charred out buildings alongside his owner and partner in crime, Greg Vespa, an arson investigator with the Illinois State Fire Marshal.

"He's trained to come in and find where, and if, somebody poured an ignitable liquid such as gasoline in the house to start it." said Greg Vespa.

Rocky can pick up the scent under two to three inches of debris. He is much more efficient than a humans guess work.

"You're talking a time frame of hours to days as opposed to minutes of taking the dog through." said Greg Vespa.

According to State Farm arson fires cost $700 million and 170 lives a year. They push up the cost of insurance.

Rocky and Greg are one of 85 K-9 arson investigating teams across the country. State Farm Insurance pays for the dog's training because its convinced these dogs are the best way to search for evidence of arson.

It is working. We have video of Rocky in Action at New Life Missionary Baptist Church. An arsonist tried to start a fire at the door in October of last year.
Rocky's quick work lead to an arrest.

"Ran him on the stairs and he alerted. And I know after that, things really amped up on the law enforcement side." said Greg Vespa.

Rocky works up to four fire scenes per week fighting arson and ultimately reducing claims.

State Farm says that since it implemented their program in one Pennsylvania town arsons dropped by 50-percent. It says the dogs which cost $25,000 are essentially paying for themselves.