Monty, a retired K-9 officer who helped solve the arsons that destroyed three St. Landry Parish churches, has died.
Monty was a 12-year-old Labrador who had worked all over Louisiana for the State Fire Marshal's Office with his handler, Lt. Brian Mashon, before he retired in 2020. He died Tuesday.
“Monty was my friend, buddy, and partner,” said Lt. Mashon, “I am going to miss him until we meet again.”
During his years of service, Monty assisted in determining the origin and cause of numerous fires, including suspected arson fires where his alerts led to evidence that resulted in arrests. Some of his most notable cases included a suspicious fatal fire in St. Helena Parish, an intentionally set fire at an occupied apartment complex in Slidell where children had to be rescued and the 2019 St. Landry church fires.
In the church fires, Monty’s skills led investigators to discover the gas can used in one of the fires, which helped identify the suspect, and eventually connected that suspect to all three fires.
In 2017, Monty beat out almost 60 other K-9s from across the country to receive the ATF’s Top Dog award.
Monty actually began his career of service as a guide dog for the visually impaired with the Guiding Eyes Foundation in New York. He was eventually certified as an accelerant detection K-9 through the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) Bureau and came to work for the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFM).
“Monty was a special dog and contributed so much to the success of this agency, not only in crime-solving, but in our public education efforts, both of which saved lives,” said State Fire Marshal Chief Dan Wallis, “Monty will be greatly missed and always remembered for his stellar service to the people of Louisiana.”