Patty The Arson Dog: Aiding in Fire Investigations in Pennsylvania, Fueled by Zignature

by Latasha Ball
Marketing Coordinator

Dogs play a vital role in serving the public and have a history of serving in a wide variety of different roles. They are utilized alongside police officers, firefighters and first responders. But what about when a horrendous fire occurs and firefighters need to solve how the fire first started? They will call on an Accelerant Detection Canine or an arson dog to assist in the investigation.

K-9 Patty is one of those vital dogs. She is not only an arson dog but is also a police K-9 and a full time member of the Beaver Falls Fire Department. She went through training prior as a guide dog with the Southeastern Guide Dogs but unfortunately didn’t complete the training. Luckily, she had the opportunity to make a career change and became part of the State Farm Arson Dog Program and that’s when her new journey as an Accelerant Detection Canine with the Beaver Falls Fire Department began.

Dog food plays a vital role in K-9 Patty’s life. Having a healthy dog food can have a huge impact on a dog like K-9 Patty. K-9 Patty is currently eating Zignature’s Zssentials Formula which is a multi-protein dog food  formula made from turkey, lamb, duck and salmon. This healthy dog food also provides a nutritionally correct ratio of fruits and vegetables that rounds out the recipe with power antioxidants and fiber-rich low-glycemic carbohydrates. Not to mention it comes complete with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals and is made using Zignature’s Limited Ingredient Formula which makes it the perfect dog food for Patty.

“Patty’s coat is soft and shiny and she has lots of energy,” said Captain David Seidl, Patty’s K9 officer. “More importantly, she still wants to work for the dog food. She has not gotten bored with it. She needs to like her food and want to work for it. Zignature provides the dog food she wants and needs.” 

K-9 Patty has been an Active Accelerant Canine for four years and has participated in more than 200 investigations. Seidl says K-9 Patty has been a positive figure amongst the kids in the community and that’s one of the many reasons why she makes an excellent Active Accelerant Canine. With that said, Seidl says 50% of arsons are set by juveniles and it’s the number one cause of death for juveniles inside the home.

“Because of Patty’s demonstrations through the community educate juveniles of the consequences associated with fire play, she has thus drastically reduced juvenile fire play,” said Seidl.

So what is an Accelerant Detection Canine?

An Accelerant Detection Canine is utilized as a tool to assist investigators who are investigating arson crimes. The use of an Accelerant Detection Canine saves taxpayer’s money as they reduce the cost of investigating arson by decreasing the hours spent on fire investigations. They also save on laboratory costs because the accuracy of an Accelerant Detection Canine helps to increase the accuracy on laboratory samples, thus reducing the number of samples needed in the arson investigation.

The breed most selected for use as an Accelerant Detection Canine are Labrador retrievers. Because their amazing scenting capabilities are acquired over many generations, Labrador retrievers make excellent Accelerant Detection Canines.  There are two different kinds of alert dogs: Passive and aggressive.

K-9 Patty is a passive alert canine which means she is trained using Pavolian techniques. K-9 Patty sits and indicates with her nose the exact location of the flammable liquid, thus leaving the evidence undisturbed which aids in the investigation when investigators need to collect the evidence.

Dogs like K-9 Patty are not meant to replace fire investigators. They are utilized as a tool to provide an invaluable and important assistance to investigators who are searching for the cause at a fire scene. Canines have the amazing ability to detect flammable liquids with greater sensitivity than current what current field flammable liquid detection devices can allow.

K-9 Patty went through five weeks of training at the Maine State Police Arson Dog School in Alfred, Maine. K-9’s that go through this extensive training program are trained to find and alert their handler on trace amounts of ignitable liquids. The training continues daily and involves thousands of drills throughout the year.

Canines also have the talent of being able to tell the difference between actual flammable liquids and similar chemical gasses which are normally present at the scene of a fire. Because of this ability, canines allow the time investigators will spend actively looking through debris for flammable liquid patterns to decrease.

More about K-9 Patty

K-9 Patty is a six-year-old Black Goldador (which is a Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever mix). She became part of the city of Beaver Falls Fire Department through a scholarship sponsored by the State Farm Insurance Arson Dog Program. She is best known for her gentle, friendly personality and her love for kids and lives at home with her handler, Captain David Seidl.

What is the State Farm Arson Dog Program?

The State Farm Insurance Arson Dog Program was created in response to the large number of arson fires that happen throughout the United States. According to the State Farm website, billions of dollars in property are lost and hundreds of lives are also lost as a result of fires that are intentionally set.

Accelerant Detection Canines have the ability to detect traces of accelerants that may have been utilized to start a fire within minutes. The canine and handler are required to complete 200 hours of training. The State Farm Insurance Arson Dog Program was created with the Main State Police with the guidance of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy which is known for its training of canines and has a national reputation in law enforcement investigations. Since its creation in 1993, the program has trained more than 400 dogs and their handlers to work in 45 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces.

For more information about the State Farm Insurance Arson Dog Program, please visit:

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