By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun
Like many dogs, Mae likes a good couch, long walks and a scoop or two of her Purina Pro Plan.
But unlike others, the six-year-old yellow lab can be called away from her warm futon to help fire investigators search charred debris for flammable liquids, helping to determine whether arson might be the cause of the blaze.
Mae is one a half-dozen “accelerant” detection dogs in the state called out to fire scenes as far away as Cumberland or the nation’s capital â€” sometimes as additional alarms are called to a structure fire and sometimes weeks after the debris has been soaked in heavy rains.
“At home she’s a regular dog,” said Lt. Dean Mulvihill, her handler and a fire investigator with the Howard County fire department. Although she is specially trained, she still disobeys occasionally, attempting to sneak people food at home. But her “headstrong” personality makes good at the job, Mulvihill said.
Together, the two report to about 50 to 60 fires a year in various jurisdictions. Each fire department differs on when they choose to use a dog, but they typically Mae is called when there is a fatality, a large amount of damage or some other reason to suspect arson.