Over the weekend, State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci announced the death of Inez, the canine, who with partner Deputy State Fire Marshal Howard Ewing, was one of the three K-9 accelerant teams operated by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
Inez passed away on Friday evening, September 18, after a sudden illness. Ewing, and his wife Michele, were at her side.
"Inez should be remembered for all of her hard work and dedication to the field of arson detection and fire prevention," said Geraci.
Inez was recognized numerous times for her outstanding work. In 2007, she and Ewing were named Deputy State Fire Marshals of the Year.
As a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) trained dog, she also traveled near and far. It is estimated that she worked more than 500 cases during her career.
The K-9 and Ewing worked as an exceptional tool in arson cases. Inez was trained at the ATF training facility in Virginia. She was a member of Accelerant Detection Canine Class 50. She also successfully completed six weeks of imprintation training and five weeks of handler and dog training. She graduated in 2005 and retired in 2014.
Senior Deputy Fire Marshal Howard Ewing is a 15-year veteran of the Office of the State Fire Marshal. He is currently assigned to Cecil, Harford, and Carroll counties.
"During times like this, no words can possibly express the sorrow we all feel in the loss of our beloved friend, partner, and co-worker. We ask, however, as a fitting tribute that we recall all those fond memories she brought to us and reflect on the many accomplishments she achieved during her lifetime," said Geraci.
In a 2014 interview, as Inez was retiring, she and Ewing were out at the North East Maryland State Police Barracks. Ewing talked about working with the canine. At the time, Ewing said that retirement for Inez meant that she would get to do something she'd rarely done as a working dog - eat from a bowl. When she was working, Inez got fed only when working and training because her work was food-reward based.
"There's a bond that you build. She is my partner. She knows when the phone rings in the middle of the night that we are going to work. She knows by my clothes," Ewing said.
Technically, she only knows three commands "seek", "show me", and "work". "Before, I would feed her at the source (of a fire). Now, she's going to be a normal dog and eat out of a bowl," said Ewing. That has been rare during her career. The dog was bowl fed only a few times during her career - if she was sick or injured. She sustained a broken tail, electrocution, and lacerated paw while on the job.
"There is no dog like your first dog," said Ewing. "Once I got the dog, it rejuvenated my career."
And he doesn't plan on replacing her. "I don't plan on getting a new partner. She wouldn't tolerate one. I don't think she'd take too kindly to that. She has been a good dog and has barked one time since 2005. And I think that was at a squirrel," he said.
And while Inez' work is done, her partner isn't moving on.
"I'm not retiring. But I won't have a partner at two o'clock in the morning anymore. It will be traumatic for her at first (not working). I will take her here or there with me at first," said Ewing. "She's been by my side. She'll still be by my side just not working. She will love that life once she gets used to it."