How to help: Northern California wildfire relief

Drug sniffing dog Oscar gets birthday party

RICHFIELD, Utah -- He's a federal agent. He's spent time in prison. He's just 4 years old.

That's Oscar, the drug sniffing Labrador retriever officially working for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms but deployed to Utah to work with Deputy State Fire Marshal Troy Mills.

"He's a phenomenal dog," Mills said.

Oscar's training started as a puppy, when he was sent to live with an inmate at a women's prison in Ohio. It was part of a program called Puppies Behind Bars, where inmates get the chance to raise service dogs of all kinds before they are sent to various assignments.

"Sometimes the inmates really haven't had a lot of affection or opportunities to do that," Mills said.

Mills met Oscar in Virginia, where man and dog trained together at an ATF facility. That was two years ago.

Today, Oscar has helped investigate 60 or 70 fire scenes, finding accelerants in about half of them. When he's not sniffing out gasoline and other flammables, he lives with Mills in Richfield.