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.
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: