FRESNO, CA - A very special detective helps valley fire investigators sniff out arsonists, but a health condition threatened to sideline her.
K-9 Tessa belongs to the non-profit Fire Investigation Strike Team. She was given to FIST through a special grant, but all of her needs like food, medical, and certifications are paid for through donations. On this day she is happy to be back on the job, and thankful to Waterhouse Animal Hospital which stepped in and provided their services for free.
"We really count on help from people such as Dr. Waterhouse and Waterhouse Animal Hospital", says Lee Wilding, Tessa's handler. Dr. Cheryl Waterhouse explained to us Tessa's condition, "You can see on her bad tooth -- her infected tooth -- all her bone is eaten away by infection".
Wilding says Tessa is a very special dog. In fact, there are only four other dogs in the state of California trained to detect flammable liquids.
"That is huge for us because when we are processing fire scenes and especially in the cases of arson fires ignitable liquids are very commonly used", says Wilding.
She has already worked on high-profile arson cases, including the house fire in which Fresno fire Capt. Pete Dern was injured.
"Tessa was pretty new on the job back then. We put her to work on that scene. We ruled out ignitable liquid being used in that scene. We were able to determine the cause of the fire and successfully prosecute the individual", Wilding said.
Thanks to all of her supporters, Tessa can continue to serve her community. Today she is happily taking pictures, which will be thank you cards for everyone who has helped her out along the way.
You can help Tessa by visiting her Facebook page for more information. https://www.facebook.com/arsondogtessa/?fref=ts