Georgia's Longest Serving Arson Dog Dies

Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-23 17:51:00-05

ATLANTA, Ga. (WTXL)--Georgia's longest serving arson dog has died.

That's according to Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

Cotton was 15 years old. He passed away on February 19 after a brief illness.

"We'll always remember Cotton as a valuable employee in the fight against arson," Hudgens said. "Without his special abilities, hundreds of suspicious fires in Georgia may have gone unsolved."

He began work in September 2003 at the fire commissioner's office. He was the sixth arson canine in the state. He received his training at the Maine State Police Training Center.

Cotton and his handler, investigator Bruce Gourley were involved in 3,000 fire investigations.

Cotton's specialty was sniffing out petrochemical products. This could be used to determine if accelerants were used to start a fire. Hudgens says this skill led to 250 arson suspects being convicted.

He says this includes six arrests for murders that involved fires being intentionally set.