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Gilbert arson dog has nose up on criminals

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GILBERT, Ariz. -

When an arsonist sets a fire, investigators work hard to determine how he did it.

One dog in the valley is making the process a whole lot easier.

3-year-old Spring is your typical sweet Lab.

Except, of course, that she carries a badge.

Spring is an Accelerant Detection K9 with Gilbert Fire.

She's been specially trained to sniff out gas, mineral oil and other accelerants used by to start a fire.

"Their nose is so powerful. I kind of use the analogy of when you go to a movie theater, most people say they smell popcorn. If she goes in a movie theater, she gonna small popcorn, hot dogs, nacho cheese, the seasoning, all of that," said David Zehring.

Spring and Fire Investigator David Zehring are just one of 52 Accelerant Detection Canine teams in the US, and they're the only team in Arizona.  

When Spring smells an accelerant, she immediately alerts Dave by sitting.

"She can pick up the scent before she even gets to it," said Zehring.

Spring is what's called a food reward dog.

The only time that she eats during the day is when she's training or when she's working, so Dave works with her a minimum of twice a day and she gets her meals right out of his hand.

In just 20 minutes, Spring can pin points multiple types of accelerants throughout a house; a task that can take a human teams hours.

At an arson scene, Dave marks every location that Spring alerts.

Investigators then collect and analyze the evidence.

Spring and investigator Zehring can respond to arson scenes across the western US.

Spring will work for four to six more years, then retire with Dave's family.

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