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Arson dog benefits Girard, two counties

GIRARD — There’s a furry addition to the Girard Fire Department.

Maya, a 2-year-old yellow lab who can sniff out arson accelerants, has not only helped Girard, but Trumbull and Mahoning counties as well during her four months with the team.

“In both counties she’s been out around 18 times last year and two times so far this year,” Maya’s handler, Thomas Cantola, said.

Cantola is an arson investigator with Girard and the Trumbull County Fire Investigation Unit.

Maya joined the department in September, and fire Chief Ken Bornemiss said she’s a useful tool for the department.

“Having her is a huge benefit to us and the entire county,” he said, “But to have her here, it’s much more of a benefit rather than a bother… That’s why I agreed to (getting her) almost immediately, as did our mayor and safety director.”

Girard Fire Department has two arson investigators — Cantola and firefighter Jim Petruzzi. From Petruzzi’s standpoint, Maya is an invaluable asset to any investigation.

“If there is suspicion of some type of accelerant used for arson, she’s critical in that situation. The threshold of an arson dog far exceeds our human senses or even at a lab,” Petruzzi said. “Without arson dogs, like Maya, things become increasingly difficult.”

Read more in Sunday’s Tribune Chronicle.

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