Fire Department

in "thinking mode"

Josie, a beautiful yellow Labrador born on March 21, 1990, was the first certified accelerant-detection canine in Nevada. She was a member of Clark County Fire Department from November 11, 1991 until she retired on February 9, 2001.

Josie was first trained at the Guide Dog Foundation in Smithtown, New York, but her playful disposition disqualified her as a guide dog. As so many other Guide Dog Foundation "dropouts", Josie was sold to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms where she found her true calling: accelerant detection.

She completed the accelerant detection program in a stride and in September 1991 met Cliff Mitchell, Clark County Fire Department Investigator who became Josie’s handler and life-long friend.

Josie during one of her court appereances

Josie was a hard working girl with a tremendous olfactory sense. She could identify 18-day-old drops of gasoline in a parking lot. Her help saved approximately 5 to 40 man-hours per investigation.

She had given firefighters over 365,000 alerts either in training or at fire scenes. Ninety percent of the fires she had been brought to turned out to be arsons.

Josie identified 15 suspects of whom 13 were ultimately convicted of arson. The two other cases were not prosecuted because of the age or mental capacity of the suspects.


Mitch & Josie
during her daily training routine

During her nearly 10-year service, Josie helped investigate fires not only for the CCFD but also for all of the fire departments in the southern Nevada area, the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Federal Bureau of Investigations, National Park Service, Nevada Division of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, fire departments in Bakersfield, Los Angeles and San Diego, and the Nevada State Fire Marshal's office.

In her "spare time", Josie participated in a "Clark County Outdoors" television program with the Clark County Community Channel and won the hearts of thousands of children during fire safety presentations at local schools.

After she retired, Josie became a full-time member of Mitchell’s family. She led a normal dog’s life for a little over two years. On November 1, 2003, she had to be "put down."

The CCFD's Honor Guard buried Josie on November 3 at the Craig Road Pet Cemetery with an honorable formal fire department ceremony. She is well remembered and missed by all at the department.

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