Girard Fire Department adds dog to arson investigation team

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Maya and partner Thomas Cantola are the third arson dog team for Trumbull County trained through State Farm's Arson Dog Training Program

GIRARD, Ohio (WKBN) – A fuzzy, four-legged team member is being added to the Girard Fire Department’s arson investigation team.

Maya hasn’t known her handler, Girard fire investigator Tom Cantola, for very long, but it’s easy to see the bond they’ve already formed.

“It wasn’t too many days in that she decided to be a 65-pound lap dog,” Cantola said.

Maya may love to give kisses, but she isn’t your average two-year-old yellow lab. She’s certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and trained to use her snout to sniff out where an accelerant was used to start a fire.

“She can pinpoint the spot, we will dig it out, take our samples outside and we’ll run her over to the samples again. If she alerts again, we seal them up and send them off to the lab to be confirmed for ignitable liquids,” Cantola said.

The two just graduated from the State Farm Arson Dog Training program. Cantola said getting her and the training was all made possible by the insurance company.

“They absorbed all that cost for the initial training, for us to get her and then bring her back here,” Cantola said.

“It’s our way of helping solve these problems and these arsons,” said State Farm agent Jamie Blott.

Maya’s first day on the job in Girard was Monday, and Cantola said she’s already been well-received by the community.

“We’re very happy to have her. She’s been a great dog and hopefully will work for many years,” he said.

Maya is the third State Farm arson dog to work in Trumbull County. She’ll also help out the county’s Fire Investigation Unit.

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