Arson Dog Kai: From Animal Shelter to the Red Carpet
It’s a Cinderella story. Abandoned by her family in 2009 in McLean County, IL a stray Labrador retriever named Ellie – and later renamed Kai – dug determinedly through a large box of toys, looking for the tennis ball and ignoring the rest of the toys.
That single-minded focus saved her life.
An employee of the Humane Society of Central Illinois contracted a trainer, who assessed Kai’s skills. In April 2010, Kai entered the State Farm® Arson Dog Program and after four weeks of training with her handler, Justin Davis, they were a certified accelerant detection canine team. Kai is trained to find miniscule traces of flammable liquids within minutes and seconds.
To date, she has worked 200 fire- and bomb-related investigations across San Antonio and Bexar County in Texas. In addition to a regular caseload, she accompanies her handler Justin Davis on local appearances about fire safety to local schools and at college level forensic classes.
Today, the accelerant detection canine has been voted one of eight finalists in the American Humane Society Hero Dog Awards contest. Sponsored by State Farm, Kai and her handler will represent the Arson Dog category at the Hero Dog Awards gala at The Beverly Hilton hotel on Sept. 27. There they will walk the red carpet, conduct VIP interviews, and attend the star-studded awards show and black-tie gala where the winning 2014 American Hero Dog will be chosen.
Quite a comeback for an abandoned pet!
“This year’s slate of hero dogs represents the best of our best friends,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “Their remarkable stories of valor deserve recognition at the highest level, and we are privileged to honor their accomplishments once a year in this national forum.”
Davis also praised his canine companion.
“I feel like, since she was from a shelter rescue, she’s a perfect example of what a shelter dog can accomplish if given the right opportunity,” Davis said.
All eight finalists will win $1,500 for their chosen charity. Kai’s charity is Project Paws Alive, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides life-saving protective K9 equipment to units nationwide that cannot otherwise afford it. The top winner wins an additional $5,000 for their charity partner.
Show your support for our Arson Dog program by voting for Kai to help determine which heroic hound will be named this year’s American Hero Dog. The public is invited to submit one vote per day through Sept. 15 at http://www.herodogawards.org/vote/?nominee=89247242.
Please vote daily through September 15, 2014 at