PHILADELPHIA – A dog whose keen snout sniffed out accelerants at hundreds of fire scenes over a storied career with the Philadelphia Fire Department was sent off into retirement Thursday with a bone and a chew toy.
For 6½ years, the black Labrador retriever named Chance scoured scenes for gasoline and other chemicals used to start fires.
As news photographers snapped shots of Chance outside department headquarters and officials recalled his work with the Arson and Explosives Task Force, the nearly 9-year-old canine who has responded to about 900 fire scenes in his career couldn't be bothered. He lay down, and his droopy jowls plopped on his front paws.
Even when Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel presented him with a bone and rope, Chance, true to his laid back persona, sniffed but didn't bite down.
"Clearly he's retired," Thiel said.
His handler, Lt. George Werez, will continue to look after him.
He said Chance's nose and relaxed demeanor made him a great asset, noting the time the dog found a still-intact firebomb more than 300 feet (91 meters) from a scene.
Werez also recalled the time when Chance kept alerting a crew to a specific spot at the scene of a fire, and when the crew members dug down, they found a small gas canister buried deep.
"He has a great nose," Werez said. "He's a great asset; he really is."
As his send-off was wrapping up, Chance grabbed his bone, put it between his paws and started gnawing.