THEIR noses have helped convict dozens of people but now these two fire investigation dogs are hanging up their boots.
Saxon and Inca have been helping Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for a decade and played a vital role in putting criminals behind bars.
In 2010, the black Labradors helped convict arsonist David Regan who was jailed after pouring petrol through a letterbox of a house in Gosport.
He set fire to the property in Beryton Road while two adults and four young children slept. They managed to escape and Regan was jailed after pleading guilty to arson with intent to endanger life.
Both Saxon and Inca were deployed as part of Hampshire Fire and Rescue’s investigation team and they indicated the presence of an ignitable liquid which led to the successful conviction of Regan, from Gosport.
Saxon and Inca’s handler, fire investigator Graham Howlett, said: ‘It’s a pleasure to work with such talented, lovely-natured dogs. I’m so proud of what they have achieved.
It’s a pleasure to work with such talented lovely-natured dogs. I’m so proud of what they have achieved.Fire investigator Graham Howlett
‘We have done jobs where the evidence they have found has been instrumental in getting a conviction.
‘It’s always nice to know that criminals wouldn’t have been brought to justice without our work.’
Fire investigation dogs are trained to work out how fires started by using their advanced sense of smell to hunt for traces of the flammable liquids used to start fires.
Saxon and Inca’s sense of smell is so strong they could smell a drop of petrol at one end of a football field from the other.
Sometimes a trace of petrol is so small that bringing in the dogs is the only chance of finding that piece of evidence.
Graham added: ‘Dogs noses are the ideal sensor. They are so reliable and accurate it cuts down the amount of samples that need to be taken and sent away for expensive forensic analysis.
‘It would take a fire investigator in excess of four hours to search an area of 20sq m to 30sq m using conventional apparatus. Saxon and Inca can search 400sq m in 10 to 15 minutes.’
Saxon, 11, has been working with the team for just over a decade after being transferred from the Ministry of Defence Police Training Facility in Essex. Inca, his younger sister aged 10), has been with the fire service for eight years. They will retire at Graham’s home with him and his wife Jo.
Spaniels Millie and Ruby, and border collie Harvey will replace Saxon and Inca on the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service team.