YARMOUTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Some of the strongest noses in the country were in a burn house in Yarmouth learning how to sniff out arson.
The smell of soot and fresh ash is poignant after a house fire, but even through those strong odors dogs like Deacon are able to find what his partner and senior fire investigator Mark Roberts is looking for. The arson dog with the Maine State Fire Marshall's Office investigates as many as three fires a week looking for evidence.
"It's something that we get to do every day and he's a partner of mine that works with me seven days a week, 365 days a year and it's really something," said Roberts. "It's a lot of fun."
Deacon and thirteen other dog teams from the U.S. and Canada participated in the State Farm arson dog training program held in Yarmouth. Even the most experienced dogs like 8 year old Judge, who has assisted with more than 375 fire investigations, can benefit from annual training. Refining his skills to take back to Allentown, Pennsylvania where just his presence has made a difference.
"We were a lot busier when I first came into service," said Judge's partner Lee Laubach. "Once we actually did some prosecutions on some arsonists they found out there was a dog in the area and actually the number of arsons, especially in the city of Allentown, have gone down about 55%."
State Farm Insurance puts on the annual training program. According to coordinator Heather Paul, there's no better way to prevent insurance fraud than through man's best friend.
"We're not looking to not pay claims," said Paul. "We want to make sure we're paying the right person for how that fire actually got started. These teams are critical for being able to do it."
Arson dog training programs are also being held in Michigan and Florida.