GILBERT, Ariz. — At least two times a day, every day, Zeta and her handler David Zehring go out to train.
"Are you ready to work?" Zehring asked as he got the two-and-a-half-year-old dog out of the back seat of his Gilbert Fire Department vehicle.
Wednesday's training is at a home currently under construction. Shirts, plastic bottles and card board are strewn across the floor as Zeta begins.
She sweeps side to side, searching for even the faintest scent of a flame accelerant.
She smells something on the tag of one of the shirts...it's diluted gasoline. She sniffs, licks the shirt, and sits down alerting her handler of the presence of a potential fire-starter.
Zeta is Arizona's only AFT certified dog, imprinted with the scent of accelerants that are often used to start fires.
“Gasoline, kerosene, paint thinners, lighter fluids,” Zehring said as he listed all of the potential chemicals that Zeta could find.
The goal is to use the power of smell to find if foul play was behind the fire, and if they can, use Zeta's nose to help find the culprit.
"There is no dog bowl at home. My pouch is the dog bowl, my hand is what feeds her,” Zehring said.
The constant training seems to be paying off.
According the Zehring, Zeta has helped lead to the confession of multiple arsonists. She was part of the team that worked on the fire at Arizona's DNC Headquarters last year.
She also helped find the culprit behind fires at Amazon and was sent to Chicago to help out during last summer's protests.
"A lot of arsonists think the evidence will be burned up in the fire," Zehring said. “She has found melted gas cans. The water bottle that has the accelerant that they think is going to burn up.”
Zeta often helps out around the state, to help cases where a human's sense of smell and existing technology might not be good enough.
A dog can go through a fire scene, and ignore the smell of charred wood, soaked debris to find the tell-tale scent.
Wednesday's training was no different. Despite the distractions placed all around her, Zeta found the faint traces of accelerant around the house.
She got her snacks, and some pats on the head.
This time it was training. But next time it may be for real, as the power of her nose can help firefighter's throughout the state find the next arsonist.