Posts Tagged ‘American Humane Association’


The National Fire Dog Memorial

On this bike ride I went by one of the few local monuments that are not dedicated to either a person or an event. On permanent display at the corner of 5th and F Streets just outside D.C. Fire Department Station #2, the National Fire Dog Monument is located at 500 5th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Judiciary Square neighborhood.

Also named “Ashes to Answers,” the National Fire Dog Monument is a life-size bronze sculpture depicting an arson dog, with his handler gazing down at his four-legged partner after a job well done. The monument, which was co-sponsored by the State Farm Insurance Company and the American Humane Association, honors the incredible and heroic work that certified accelerant-detection canine teams do to investigate suspicious fires in homes and businesses around the country. Unveiled in late 2013 after an eight-city cross country tour, the monument was sculpted by a Denver area artist named Austin Weishel, who is also a volunteer firefighter with the Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue in Colorado.

The main subject depicted in the monument was modeled after a black Labrador canine agent named Sadie, who in 2011 was named by the American Humane Association as the Hero Dog of the Year. Sadie retired in 2014, leaving only 81 certified arson canine teams at the present time in the United States and Canada. And the D.C. Fire Department is fortunate enough to have two of those teams. The State Farm Insurance Company sponsors the program that trains them.

In a city replete with monuments and memorials, the National Fire Dog Monument has quickly gained popularity, especially among local residents. In a “Monument Madness Contest” held by The Washington Post, 32 different statues and monuments competed against each other for the distinction of the most popular in D.C. There were four categories of competitors entitled: “Presidents and Founding Fathers”; “Arts and Sciences”; “War and Peace”, and; the grouping in which the National Fire Dog Monument was categorized, named “What the Heck is That?” In a come-from-behind, Cinderella-story victory, the monument took home the top prize in the tournament, receiving more votes than any of its more famous competitors, including The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, and The Iwo Jima Memorial, as well as more obscure but worthy contenders such as The Maine Lobsterman and The Titanic Memorial.

Despite its popularity, the sculpture is only half of the monument, which remains as yet unfinished.  The plan for the second half of the monument is comprised of a bronze fire hydrant with water coming out of it that goes to a dish, so that dogs walking by will have a place to get a drink and chill out.  Donations to help complete the National Fire Dog Monument, and to support heroic arson dogs like Sadie and her colleagues, can be made through the American Humane Association.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]