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Ex-fighting Pitbull is first of his breed to be used for arson detection

Hansel the K9 arson detector dog dog-serious
© Throw Away Dogs – Facebook

Employed to sniff out the cause of fire, Hansel is believed to be the first Pitbull to serve as an arson detection dog in his state of New Jersey!

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 22/01/2020, 13:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:34

Reports CNN, Pitbull Hansel was rescued from a Canadian dog fighting racket when he was just seven weeks old. His future uncertain, he was taken to Throw Away Dogs Project, a charitable organization in Philadelphia that, rescues "unique" dogs and supplies specialist canines for the authorities.


Despite his having a violent and oppressive past, Hansel stood out as a dog with real potential. Carol Skaziak, founder of the project, told CNN Hansel had all of the qualities of a “regular working dog”.

Hansel trained with Throw Away Dogs for a whole year before being enrolled on a 16-week canine course with his handler Tyler Van Leer to become a certified arson detection K9 officer.

Hansel, now four years old, was this month appointed to the Millville Fire Department, New Jersey. Officer Van Leer is delighted.


Guess who has his own Instagram page now?? Yep, you guessed it! ThrowAwayDogs K9 Hansel Photo by: Larsons Images To...

Posted by Throw Away Dogs Project on Monday, January 20, 2020

Arson detection

Hansel and Van Leer investigate properties that have been destroyed by fire. Hansel's job is to sniff out potential sources of fire - such as flammable liquids - that may have been used to deliberately set a place alight.

"He was trained or imprinted on 14 different odors and once he was imprinted on all the odors, he was eligible to graduate," Van Leer told CNN.

Hansel is a single purpose arson detection K9, meaning he is specifically trained to identify ignitable liquids, such as kerosene, gasoline and diesel.”

The dog's method of telling Van Leer whether or not a fire was started deliberately is simple: Hansel sits if he can smell something odd.

If he doesn't sit,” Van Leer explains, “then it was most likely not intentionally set fire.” 

"He's extremely excited," Van Leer added. "Whenever I ask him, 'Are you ready to go to work?' and bring out the harness, he starts doing laps around the crate."

Watch the video of Hansel in action here:

K-9 Hansel

ICYMI: This dog is now the FIRST pitbull to become an arson detection K-9 in the state! His journey to get here made national news a few years back. Throw Away Dogs Project Millville Fire Department New Jersey Police K-9 Association

Posted by Erika Shych TV on Wednesday, January 15, 2020