At only 20 months old, and weighing in at just 52 pounds, Labrador retriever Honey may seem like an unlikely recruit for the Calgary Fire Department (CFD). But her ability to accurately detect flammable liquids – with far greater accuracy than hydrocarbon detection devices – makes her a great fit for the team. With her partner, fire investigator Brad McDonald, she’ll help investigate fire scenes under investigation.
Brad and Honey only recently returned to Calgary after completing five weeks of specialized training through State Farm Insurance’s accelerant detection canine sponsorship program. The scholarship-based program was established in 1993, after evidence of the success of canines in fire investigations began to be established. For State Farm, the program offers another tool to appropriately deliver on insurance claims where property, or more importantly, lives were lost.
Before taking the program, Brad and CFD were subject to an intense application and fund development process. Encana Corporation stepped forward with the offer of a five-year partnership to provide Brad and Honey with support for day to day operating expenses including Honey’s care, feeding, annual re-certification and equipment – including a natural gas-fuelled truck – to start the new team on the right foot.
With 168 fires in Calgary confirmed to be the result of arson over the last three years, Honey will undoubtedly be a valuable resource in fire investigation and prevention.
Honey was spayed, micro-chipped and licensed through the City of Calgary's Animal & Bylaw Services. The Calgary Fire Department is committed to taking the lead as an example of what it means to be a responsible pet owner.