Meeting Mika: The West Fargo Arson Dog
WEST FARGO, N.D. – Mika is the newest member of the West Fargo Fire family.
“We were looking to see what we could do to benefit the quality of life in our community,” said Chief Dan Fuller of the West Fargo Fire Department.
She’s trained to dig and sniff through the rubble and debris and determine if a fire was caused by accelerants commonly found in Arson cases. Mika and her handler spent one month training together at fire scenes across Maine.
“She’s gonna help us immensely by speeding that whole process up,” said John Neeb, a fire inspector with the West Fargo Fire Department, “Her nose is way more powerful then ours to find that type of stuff, so she can dig through all of that for us and find what we need.”
“This is just another layer that comes in to make sure that if there is accelerant, if we do suspect arson, we can know where to go to get the right samples and send them down to the lab in Bismarck to get analyzed and say yes this was indeed a fire and label things arson,” said Fuller.
When she isn’t busy solving cases around the community, she’s a source of joy for the fire station.
“She’s very active. She likes to play around a lot. One of her favorite things to do is nibble on people. She just loves to play all day.”
It’s an important role; that’s because 20 to 30% of firefighters suffer from PTSD according to studies conducted by the U.S. Fire Administration and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
“It lightens the mood around the station a lot, and given the stuff we deal with on a daily basis, just having that levity around, it’s starting to help with that, and we can see that,” said Fuller.
Fire station mascots may be a thing of the past, but Mika is slowly taking on that role as well.
“She’s not only going to be working with investigations, but we’re going to use her for any type of public education that we can,” said Neeb.
“It’s taken some getting used to, but in a good way,” said Fuller.
Mika was provided to the West Fargo Fire Department through the State Farm Arson Dog Training Program.