Captain Howard Orr and Riley the arson dog
Paul Wellman

Riley the arson dog and his handler, Captain Howard Orr with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, trotted out a new ride and some impressive skills this Wednesday.

With a $74,000 anonymous donation through the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance, the pair was hooked up with a new SUV fitted with an early warning heat detection system and other Riley-specific features, like a kennel in the back, deep-tinted windows, and automatic air conditioning that flips on if the car gets too hot with the hound inside.

Riley joined County Fire last September and has since participated in a number of arson investigations. During this week’s presentation, he showed off his ability to sniff out accelerants, such as gasoline, lighter fluid, etc. Orr put a few drops of accelerant on common household items, and Riley was able to suss out the smell in short order.

The training program for Riley and Orr was funded by State Farm Insurance Companies and is available to fire departments and law enforcement agencies across the United States. Since 1993, it has placed more than 325 dogs around the country.


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