Jan 22, 2013 9:04 PM by Beth Beechie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Less than a year after Yancy, the only trained arson dog in Montana, arrived in Great Falls, she now has to go back to Maine.
Doug Bennyhoff, who announced his retirement last week as the Great Falls Fire Marshal, was the only person trained to work with Yancy.
Bennyhoff's announcement came just days after he was charged in connection with the September death of Orville Jones (click to read more).
Now, the city tells KRTV that the golden lab will not stay in Montana.
Logistics of how the dog will make it back to Maine have yet to be determined, but city staff expect to work out those details within the next few days.
State Farm awarded Great Falls Fire Rescue a $45,000 grant to pay for Yancy and her training.
Bennyhoff and Yancy spent a month training in Maine last spring, forming a unique bond that trainers say can be very difficult to replicate with another person if the original human can no longer be paired with the dog.
The Arson Dog website states:
Arson dogs are trained to sniff out minute traces of accelerants (gasoline, lighter fluid, etc.) that may have been used to start a fire. Each arson dog works and lives with their handler, a law enforcement officer or firefighter trained to investigate fire scenes. The canines and handlers are required to complete four weeks of training in Maine, training every day during those four weeks.
UPDATE, January 23: Yancy, the Great Falls "fire dog," is returning to Maine, but there's a chance she could return to Montana in the future.
City officials told KRTV on Tuesday that Yancy - the only trained arson dog in Montana - would be returned to the arson-dog training facility in Maine now that her trained handler, former Great Falls Fire Marshal Doug Bennyhoff, has retired from service.
Bennyhoff spent four weeks in Maine last spring training with Yancy.
The arson dog program is funded by State Farm, and company representative Brad Hilliard confirmed on Wednesday that Yancy will be returned to the training facility in Maine for the time being.
He added that State Farm is working with the State Fire Marshal's office to identify a new handler and provide training in order to keep an arson dog team, especially Yancy, in Montana.
We will update you when we learn more.