North Dakota’s First Arson Dog


Webbster and his handler Shane serve the local community in a big way. They’re the only team in the state that help solve arson cases.

“He’s able to discriminate between the things that are naturally occurring in your home that have hydrocarbons in them like your couches or whatnot and an accelerant that may have been placed there,” said Shane Weltikol.

They went through training in New Hampshire for a month and just got back. Webbster can differentiate between 60 different scents, even in the smallest amounts. 

Shane added, “It just gives us and the surrounding an ability to use another tool in the toolbox

For the first and last training of every day, Webbster does something called basics. There’s an ignitable liquid in a can, and he has to put his nose in it to get some kibble. And Webbster doesn’t work exclusively for the Mandan Fire Department. 

“One of the things that we wanted to do with Webbster, not only within our department, is use him in outside departments as well. So, being that he is the only dog in the state, we’ve opened him up to be a statewide resource,” said Shane.

If other North Dakota cities like Dickinson, Williston, or Fargo need Webbster’s help, all they have to do is call Shane up. Even though he’s only been in service a few days, Webbster has already got off on the right paw helping out the State Fire Marshall’s office. 

Shane exclaimed, “It went great! He did an excellent job. he kept his nose on the ground the whole time. There wasn’t anything that he alerted on, but we got out and got some practice.” 

They were able to get him through a grant with State Farm Insurance. It’s just Webbster for now, and it’ll probably stay that way. More arson dogs just aren’t in the plans.


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