on September 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Seneca adds arson dog to fire department

The newest member of the Seneca Fire Department has a nose for the job, along with four legs and a tail.

The Seneca FD’s T.J., a 3-year-old black Labrador/Shepard mix, came to the Golden Corner on Sunday. T.J., a trained arson canine certified through FSI (Forensic and Scientific Investigations) and the Alabama State Fire Academy, will be handled by Fire Chief Shane Phillips.

“Since 2005 the Seneca Fire Department has been involved with seven arson related arrests, and most certainly feel that this new tool can only help in future investigations,” Phillips said.

Accelerant dogs help reduce the number of samples that need to be collected and tested, thus saving time and money. Samples that are found serve as evidence in court, Phillips said.

The newest addition was the product of cooperation by local businesses with the department, as T.J. was purchased through a donation from Walmart of Seneca. All of his veterinary care has been donated by Dr. Andy Holland of the Oconee Veterinary Clinic, and the specialized food is being donated by Saluda River Pet Foods in Seneca. The dog has been in training since late February at FSI Canine Academy just east of Birmingham, Ala., officially finishing his training this past Sunday. Phillips said he worked with the dog in June for one week and returned to complete the finishing class with T.J. last week.

The canine will be made available to all agencies within Oconee County and Clemson.

“We have already been in contact with SLED who is anxious to work with our staff,” Phillips said. “Additionally we have spoken with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Department about future ventures as well.”