New recruit: Arson K-9 joins fire department

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Liberty is a one-and-a-half-year-old Labrador Retriever and is the newest addition to the South Padre Island Fire Department family. Along with her handler Ashley Bowen, they will serve as a fire rescue asset to the local community and south Texas region. (Photo by Freddy Jimenez)

This week, the South Padre Island Fire Department announced the addition of a new and four-legged member to the fire rescue team: Liberty.

On Wednesday May 15, city and fire department officials congregated at the fire station to officially welcome Liberty, the one-and-half-year-old male Labrador retriever, and his handler Ashley Bowen.

Liberty is originally from Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc. located in Florida. She was once a seeing-eye dog, but since has become an Accelerant Detection Canine (ADC).

Bowen, an eight-year fire rescue veteran but who has been with the SPI fire dept. for four years, was the one who brought the idea forward when she decided which way her career path was heading.

“Once I decided my career route was gonna go the fire investigation route, of ways to make fire investigation more efficient,” she said, “I happened to come across an article about K-9’s and using them for arson and detect accelerants and fire scene and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”

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