TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Their sharp senses and tedious training puts arsonists behind bars.
Topeka's own arson dog is up for a national award that would honor her and other hero dogs.
Dog noses are a vital tool for the Kansas State Fire Marshal in nabbing arsonists quicker and putting them behind bars.
"She can go into those scenes with us and identify if any type of accelerant was used."
Tana the yellow lab is an accelerant detection dog and her nose could get her recognized for her work in the Topeka area as America's top arson dog in this year's American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.
State Farm in Topeka nominated Tana.
"She really is a hero when you think of that she's able to bring people to justice and prevent future loss as well," State Farm Agent Jamie Hornbaker said. "We're excited that a local dog was nominated."
When Tana is not working a fire scene, for practice, Rose Rozmiarek, Tana's handler, will leave drops of different kinds of accelerants in a room or even a field. Tana finds it in a matter of seconds.
Arson dogs have many different skills and train every day to sharpen those skills. Not only can they sniff out the exact location of accelerant at a fire scene, they can also pick out a suspect from a line-up.
"Arsonists, if they went and bought gasoline they will have some remnants of that gasoline on their clothing. We do all types of searches and sniffs. I really can't say that she has a 'strong' point because we're always training in everything we need to do," Rozmiarek said.
Tana also cuts back on manpower hours, the amount of samples the fire marshal officers take and how many the chemists back at the lab must analyze.
Tana's sensitive sniffer has helped put criminals in jail in several cases, and the evidence of accelerant she finds at scenes makes suspects easier to prosecute. Rozmiarek said suspects will confess after they're told a dog found remnants of gasoline at the scene. In one particular case in Parsons, Kansas, a man tried to pass off a fatal house fire as an electrical accident. Tana sniffed out accelerant in the house's ceiling insulation, incriminating the man.
"That helps when you're in court testifying what that dog did and help get that conviction."
Rose says if Tana can win the award, arson dogs will finally get the spotlight they deserve.
"Some of these arsonists committed homicide in the scenes she's worked. So to credit her and reward her for that, it's just awesome."
To vote for Tana, go to the link provided on the screen at www.herodogawards.org.
You can cast your vote everyday until June 6th, where the top three dogs with the most votes will move into the second round of voting. The final top-vote phase will end September 15.
There are multiple categories other than Arson Dog, and top finalists in each category will travel to Beverly Hills, Calif. to attend the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards Gala.
Cash prizes will be given out to the winners, and they will choose what charity or benefit to donate it to.