Spring Ahead: Gilbert's First Arson Detection Dog Retires
Gilbert, Ariz. - After seven years with the Gilbert Fire and Rescue Department, Spring, Gilbert’s beloved arson detection dog, is retiring.
The eight-year-old black lab is the only trained Alcohol Tobacco Firearms (ATF) dog in the state and she and her partner, veteran fire investigator David Zehring, have assisted on hundreds of arson cases in their time together, both throughout Arizona and beyond. Gilbert’s lone Accelerant Detection Canine (ADC) Team has responded to national callouts in Oakland, California as well as Albuquerque and Carlsbad, New Mexico.
Spring is trained to sniff out accelerants used to start a fire. Her heightened sense of smell helps investigators find clues that might have otherwise gone overlooked. Spring and Zehring are also heavily involved with community outreach, holding fire danger demonstrations for local schools and groups.
To keep their noses sharp, ATF dogs are required to train a minimum of twice a day, every day. The training is food-driven, which works out well for Spring. She was originally groomed for guide dog school, but was released from the program due to her intense love of food.
ATF dogs can work until the age of 10, but the time was right for Spring to hang up her work booties and enjoy retirement. She’ll remain in Zehring’s care, and is looking forward to spending more time with her family, swimming, sunbathing and, of course, enjoying lots of treats.
Gilbert won’t be without an arson detection dog for long, as Zehring heads out to ATF Training in Virginia later this week in search of his brand-new partner.
Watch below for a look back at Spring's career and retirement celebration, featuring a custom-made canine cake.