NewsCovering Colorado


Sniffing out arson in Colorado with a new K-9

Arson Dog
Posted at 6:37 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 08:06:29-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — There is a new resource for sniffing out arson evidence in Colorado. A black lab named Jo Jo based in Canon City.

“She’s my partner,” said Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Arson Investigator, Dawn Tollis. The two met in early April, trained intensely for four weeks, and now are a team at work in Colorado.

Part of Jo Jo’s initiation is showing her skills at fire agencies she may aid.

"The more we can interact, the more we see how the dog works, the better understanding we have how that dogs going to operate on a fire scene," said Colorado Springs Deputy Fire Marshal, Kris Cooper.

Jo Jo is available to work in any part of the state, but will likely work more often in Southern Colorado.

The young dog started on a path toward becoming a guide dog. "She is a highly spirited dog," said Tollis. Her energy proved better suited for arson investigation.

Her breed makes her good at this type of work.

"Labs are chosen for this job because of their drive for hunting and their olfactory capabilities,” said Tollis, “They're just amazing dogs."

Olfactory is a sense of smell. "For a human we have five to six million scent cells we work with, to smell with,” said Tollis, “These dogs have 225 to 300 million scent cells."

Jo Jo’s selection and training is through a program funded by State Farm. “They’re called arson dogs—they’re actually accelerant detection K9’s, said Tollis.