It's not easy to say goodbye to cherished pets, even those that have lived long, happy lives. Although you may hate the thought of life without your pet, euthanasia can be the kindest decision you ...View Article
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Rancho Cucamonga Fire District
September 8, 1995 – November 21, 2009
Loved by Susan De Antonio
K9 Gator was the 2nd Accelerant Detection K9 employed by the fire district. He was a career change pup from Guide Dogs of America. His career began in 1998 as a ‘rookie’, shadowing K9 Newby at hot fire scenes for a year. He promoted to primary K9 fire investigator October 1999. Gator’s job was to find evidence of ignitable/flammable liquid residue at fire scenes. Gator was recognized as an expert by Judge McCarville, who allowed him to ‘testify’ by conducting a demonstration for the jury in a $1.3 million dollar church arson. He even picked out the arsonist from a suspect lineup in the jail more than 12 hours after the fire! The convicted arsonist was sent to prison.
K9 Gator was the 1st California Arson K9 to be certified in accelerant detection by the New York State K9 Academy and also by the North American Police Work Dog Association. Both organizations required Gator to demonstrate proficiency in structure fire scenes, burned vehicles, clothing/article lineups, evidence can lineups and open field/meadow searches. Gator had to identify a minimum of 18 substances ranging from diesel fuel to acetone with no less than 91.6% accuracy. He never failed to certify.
K9 Gator received a letter of appreciation from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office praising him for his help in closing a complicated 2003 case of insurance fraud against a prominent dentist. WeTIP Anonymous honored Gator as their 2003 Arson Investigator of the Year. The highlight of Gator’s career was being honored by the California Veterinary Medical Association as their 2004 Animal Hero of the Year. They recognized the human-animal bond that formed between those of us so fortunate to have a faithful animal partner.
Gator took the job of Field Training Officer (FTO) and successfully trained K9 Denali as his successor. Gator’s job performance was exemplary – above expectation in every regard. He worked in high heat conditions, on broken glass, around dead bodies and never quit. He always did what I asked of him. He protected my car, my valuables and my personal safety without fail for the entire 9 years he was in the field. I never had to worry about my belongings or safety when I was out late on fire lane patrols or bar checks.
K9 Gator retired June 1, 2007 after 9 years of faithful service. He investigated approximately 100 fires in Rancho Cucamonga and assisted the cities of Escondido, Chino, Hemet, Montclair, Ontario, Palm Springs, Pasadena, Redlands, Rialto, Riverside, San Bernardino, Upland, Victorville and San Bernardino County with arson investigations. The losses he sniffed totaled more than $14 million dollars.
K9 Gator spent the last 2 years enjoying Idyllwild on weekends. He is survived by his yellow lab girlfriend, Mee-Too, K9 Denali, his Grandpa Klingler and his trainer/lifetime partner, Fire Investigator, K9 Handler Susan De Antonio (Ret.) A memorial service was held for Gator in January at the Rancho Cucamonga Fire Station and was covered on FDNN TV.