EmVP: Izzo the arson dog helps sniff out crime across state
COLUMBIA - Most dogs spend their days playing with toys, getting belly rubs and eating treats. But, one Columbia dog has a much bigger job.
Izzo the "arson dog" is one of a kind in Missouri. He works for the Columbia Fire Department, but travels across the state solving crimes.
Izzo helps investigate arson incidents by sniffing out traces of accelerants like gasoline and lighter fluid. Jim Pasley, a fire marshal at the Columbia Fire Department and Izzo's owner, said it only takes a drop for Izzo to flag it.
"Dogs are smelling machines," Pasley said. "If you think you're going to run out into the woods and throw something out in the woods, he's a dog and that's what he like to do. He'll find it."
It's been three years since Izzo joined the Pasley family and he fits right in.
"I guess it's like having a pet, but a younger brother," said Andrew Pasley, Jim's 10-year-old son. "He's like having another sibling basically."
The only thing that really sets Izzo apart from the rest of the family is his diet. Every time Izzo eats he's in training so he associates food and work together. That means no treats.
"He is so friendly and lovable…it's hard to remember that he can't just have a snack off the table or something like that," said Melissa Pasley, Jim's wife. "When he's not working he's just a normal dog and a part of our family."
Before Jim could bring Izzo home to Columbia to start working, the pair had to complete 200 hours of training in Maine. Since then, Izzo has worked around 30 fires across the state including in Iberia, just outside of Lee's Summit and Centralia.
"To see the training and know the smallest little drop of fuel that he can sniff it out and to see that happen in front of you…it's pretty amazing," Melissa said.
Izzo is an extra "tool in the tool box" for fire investigators. Addyson Pasley, Jim's daughter, said Izzo makes the job a lot easier and quicker for people like her dad.
"A lot of cases would normally take much longer. With his help he can find the source of it in just a day," said Addyson. "It's just his nose and he knows where it is, like that's just crazy."
But when Izzo isn't busy sniffing out accelerants, Jim says Izzo is just another one of their kids.
"We're almost inseparable. Everywhere I go, he goes with me," he said. "He's my partner and my friend."
The Columbia Fire Department got Izzo through the State Farm Arson Dog Program. The insurance provider offers the dogs and the training to "to help combat arson fraud and increase community awareness of the problem," according to its website.
The program was founded over 25 years ago in Maine and has trained more than 400 dogs.