Pooch In Boots Visits Holyrood
Written by Kevin Rennie on January 22, 2014
One of Scotland’s only working fire dogs visited Holyrood on Thursday to demonstrate the new vehicle he will travel across the country in to assist in the investigation of suspicious blazes.
Springer spaniel Billy’s local MSP Joan McAlpine was on hand to take part in the demonstration, and the trio were even joined by First Minister Alex Salmond – who was keen to see Billy in action.
Duncan, from Middlebie in Dumfriesshire, served for nine years as a firefighter in Lockerbie – he has spent four years training Billy as one of Scotland’s only accelerant detection dogs.
Both Duncan and Billy have completed an intensive course and are certified members of the International Association of Arson Investigators. The pair have provided their services to a host of events in recent years, ranging from the Pope’s visit to Scotland to U2 and Bruce Springsteen stadium concerts. Together, they now form K9 Response.
“Billy is able to sniff out accelerants which can be absolutely crucial in investigating suspicious fire scenes.
“I honestly believe that the fire services in Scotland are missing a valuable opportunity here, not only to save money, but get to the bottom of cases quickly and efficiently.”
“Having a dog on the scene can speed up the operation and hopefully reduce arson because perpetrators realise they have more chance of being caught”.
South of Scotland MSP Joan learned of Billy’s skills when Duncan contacted her, as his local regional MSP, and asked her to see what he could do. Since then she has been campaigning with Duncan for Fire Dogs to be used more widely in the fire service.
“Billy won the hearts of MSPs and government ministers when he visited parliament last year. Not only is he a very cute pooch in boots, he is a potential lifesaver. By sniffing out propellants he can stop fire-raising campaigns before they escalate and lead to loss of life. He can even identify propellants on the clothes of fireraisers very quickly. He could perform a valuable function in beating this terrible crime and also educating children about the dangers of fire-raising.
“Billy really is an incredibly talented and well trained dog with a huge amount to offer.
“Of course, it’s up to Fire Service managers to decide if Billy will fit into their plans, however I believe he would be a great asset to the Scottish Fire Service and would like to see working dogs like Billy more widely used”.