Dellroy couple awarded county fire association’s top award

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Members of the Carroll County Firefighters Association presented the Fire Fighters of the Year award to Sam and Leisa Arnold of Dellroy during the Dellroy Homecoming. Shown above (from left) are Willis Cline, association president; Sam and Leisa Arnold, Jonathan Thompson, association secretary and Peggy Horn, association treasurer.

By Leigh Ann Rutledge

Associate Editor

Sam and Leisa Arnold of Dellroy were named the Carroll County Firefighters Association (CCFFA) Fire Fighters of the Year during the awards presentation at the Dellroy Homecoming Aug. 12.

Sam is an 11-year member of the Dellroy Volunteer Fire Department (DVFD), where he serves as a captain. Leisa is a member of DVFD. Instead of fighting fires, she runs the K9 unit.

The Arnolds have traveled across most of the United States with their dogs. They have worked in disaster areas and have spent 23 days in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. They have not worked internationally, but that opportunity is on Leisa’s bucket list. 

Twenty-five years ago, Leisa said, “I was young and said, ‘Have dog-will travel’ and it took on a life of its own.”

She began her work because she liked to train dogs and wanted to do something to give back to people. She didn’t want to train seeing eye dogs because she had to give up the dogs.  When Leisa began training her dogs, she worked with handlers who had years of experience and learned from them. She attends K9 seminars and trainings and is glad to get input from handlers from other areas. She takes all the aspects from the different handlers and figures out which would work best for the dog she is training. 

Leisa has three Belgian Malinois, two of which are certified and one in training. Malinois tend to have a longer work life and they like to keep busy working. She works with the dogs throughout the day, doing one exercise now and another later to keep it interesting for the dogs. 

The dogs include Ellie, who is 10 and is beginning to mellow out a bit. Ellie and Dita, a year-old pup, work in human remains detection (HRD) and Jackson is a tracking dog. 

“Ellie is very methodical at doing her job,” Leisa said. 

When the K9 team is deployed Sam goes along and serves as the liaison, safety officer and handles the logistics. Leisa noted they receive more calls for HRD work than tracking. 

 “We do what we do because people need to either be reunited with their loved one or get closure,” Leisa stated. “It’s a job that has to be done.”

As for being named the CCFFA Firefighters of Year, Leisa was freaked out or maybe in shock. 

“I had no clue. It was a huge surprise,” she said. “Sam asked me if that really happened.”

“We don’t think about people thinking about what we do,” she continued. “We just do our job. We are wrapped up in what we are doing and doing it right.

“We are thankful and grateful. It is truly an honor, an unexpected honor,” she added. 

Leisa noted she and Sam are very blessed to live in Dellroy.

“Dellroy is one family. If someone is in need the rest of the town helps,” she stated. “Dellroy Fire Department and the community have supported us, embraced us and stood behind us; and helped when we had fundraisers. The support is humbling.”

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