Kent Co. debuts new way to 'sniff out' arson
Updated: Tuesday, October 29 2013, 11:15 PM EDT
KENT COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Kent County Sheriff's Department has a new way to sniff out arsonists.
On Tuesday, the department welcomed a dog named Ritzey to its Arson Investigation Team.
Ritzey is a certified arson dog, trained to sniff out substances used to start fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were more than 41,000 fires set on purpose in 2009, causing about $792 million worth of damage.
Arson dogs are key in helping firefighters determine how fires are started.
"There was a little over $5 million in 2011 in arson damages, and that is just for Kent County alone," said Kent County Sheriff's deputy Dale Dekort. "SO once people understand if you light a fire, Ritzey will help determine where it was set and help acquire the evidence for conviction, hopefully it will make people think twice about lighting fires."
Ritzey is one of more than 300 arson dog teams in North America.