CUMBERLAND COUNTY, N.J. — A rescued pit bull named Hansel is making history by becoming New Jersey’s first pit bull arson-detection K-9 officer, News12 reports.
“When I put on his harness and I tell him, ‘Do you want to go to work?’ he literally does laps in his crate,” said Tyler Van Leer, a firefighter who is working with Hansel.
When he was seven weeks old, Hansel was rescued from a Canadian dog-fighting ring.
He was taken in by the Throw Away Dogs Project, which is a group that takes rescued dogs and helps them learn how to become working dogs.
“He exhibited all the qualities that a regular working dog, police K-9 dog has,” said Carol Skaziak, the Throw Away Dogs Project founder.
Hansel has spent the last 5 weeks with Van Leer doing around a dozen practice searches every day for the New Jersey Police K-9 Association’s academy training.
Hansel worked his first shift with Van Leer on Sunday.
“In the instance, where the scene is safe, I’ll determine where the point of origin is and then I’ll dig out that area and then Hansel will come in and sniff out the area that I’ve dug out and if he sits then I’ll take evidence if he doesn’t sit then it’s most likely was not an intentionally set fire,” Van Leer said.
“Hansel has been through hell and back and this absolutely is needed to find his niche, his person, and Fireman Van Leer is that person and his job, now he’s going to have a purpose,” Skaziak said.