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Arson dog is hero on four legs

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Ian Gronau | July 10, 2014

BELOIT -- Glory may not have advanced advanced from the semifinal round of the Hero Dog Awards contest, held annually by the American Humane Association, but she's still a hero to many.

The Beloit Fire Department K-9, trained in accelerant detection, works under handler Lt. Keith Lynn at the Beloit Fire Department, and was nominated for the contest in February. Voting in the semifinal round ended Monday.

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"Each year folks can nominate their courageous canines by going to our website and writing a short description of how their heroic hound made a difference in their lives or the lives of others," said Mark Stubins, a spokesman for the American Humane Association. "This year we received 135 nominations of dogs who work to save lives on the battlefield, who lend sight or hearing to the disabled, or who protect our homes and communities."

Last Monday the final round of polling wrapped up for the Hero Dog competition, and this round of votes decided which dogs become finalists.

So what still makes Glory a hero?

Even though the yellow Labrador is only 2 years old, she's already had extensive training and held two different jobs.

"Before she came to us, Glory was a level 4 assistance dog set up to live with a handicapped person," Lynn said. "She has real bad separation anxiety though and wasn't a very good fit for that program so they pulled her out of that one and brought her over to the arson program. Separation anxiety is actually a good thing for our program because it helps build an important dependency on the handler."

Lynn took over the handling of Glory in September last year and they've been hard at work ever since. Glory isn't Beloit's first arson dog though, the fire department originally initiated its K-9 program in the mid-'90s.

"Back in '96 we were awarded a State Farm arson dog program grant and they sent me out to get training and acquire a dog," Lynn said. "The first dog's name was Bo-Bo, and he worked for eight years. Then we got our next K-9, Molly, who worked until the fall of 2013, and then that's when we acquired Glory."

Glory works alongside Lynn every day. Lynn says Labradors are selected because of their high food drive, which makes them easy to motivate.

After a fire has been put out, Lynn and Glory show up to begin the investigation. Glory works by using her powerful sense of smell to pick up any scent of accelerants, such as gas or other substances to help determine if the fire had been set deliberately.

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