by Emily Luxen
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A member of the Cookeville Fire Department is getting some national recognition for her investigative skills.
Krissy is a specially trained arson dog, and is currently a semi-finalist for the 2014 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. The 4-year-old black Labrador has been with the fire department for a little over two years.
Her handler, Lt. Donnie Vinson, has been working with arson dogs for about 18 years and said Krissy is special.
"This is not just a dog," said Lt. Vinson. "This is my partner. We've grown together, learned to work together and she trusts me."
Krissy is called in after a fire is extinguished. She has been trained to sniff out up to 60 different types of flammable liquids that help firefighters figure out if the property owners have committed arson.
"We're looking for gas, diesel or kerosene," said Lt. Vinson. "The first thing she does is help us get the most positive samples out of a fire, so we can get a conviction off that positive sample."
Krissy prepares for fires with daily training sessions. Lt. Vinson hides pieces of carpet soaked in gasoline around the fire department for Krissy to locate.
When she finds the items, she's rewarded with food. The sessions also help keep her in good shape.
"Twenty minutes at a fire scene for a dog is like a good hour of hard labor for a normal person," said Lt. Vinson. "She works real hard."
Krissy is one of only four arson dogs in Tennessee. Lt. Vinson said she is an important resource for the Cookeville fire department and helped investigate 68 fires last year.
"To me, she's already a hero," said Lt. Vinson. "She's already won."
Voting for the Hero Dog Awards continues until June 6. Anyone can vote once each day online by visiting http://on.nc5.co/1jIeuy7.
The top three dogs in each category will advance to the next round, and then compete for the grand prize from July 7-Sept. 15. The 2014 Hero Dog winner will take home a plaque, and a $1,500 prize.