Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs

Dog, Weimaraner, Pet, Canine, Portrait The other night, I watched a show on hotel rooms and the guy who inspected his room found several live bedbugs running over a mattress.  Out in the bush of Alaska, it is not uncommon to find bedbugs in school carpeting, homes, and other places so I check my mattress and house for bedbugs.  Yes, I've found a couple but I immediately attacked the problem.

I've even stayed at one hotel where I spotted a bed bug crawling across a table.  When I notified the front desk, they immediately had me change rooms and contacted maintenance to take care of the room.

At the hotel on television, the owners denied having a bedbug problem because none of the guests complained so they brought in a dog who'd been trained to sniff out bedbugs.  I'd never heard of such a thing but they took the dog through and he found infestations in 11 out of 50 rooms.  The next day, a company specializing in ridding rooms of bedbugs arrived and discovered some of the infestations had gone into the wall.

I admit, I didn't know they trained dogs to sniff out bedbug infestations.  Although many in the industry are skeptical about the dog's ability, records indicate that specially trained dogs have a 97% success rate of finding bedbugs compared to a human's 30% rate using visual inspection.

 The problem with using a visual inspection is that young bedbugs in the larvae and nymphs are a light yellow to off white color easily blending into the mattresses and they are no larger than a sesame seed so they are extremely small. Even when grown up, most bedbugs are no more than 1/4th inch long, making them hard to see.

In addition, a dog is able to sniff out the bedbugs within minutes while it can take hours for the human to tear the room apart looking for the critters.  There are facilities where dogs are trained to search the most likely places bedbugs hide.  Most of these training facilities are located in Florida.

As for the breeds, hunting dogs such as Blood Hounds and Beagles or energetic breeds such as Jack Terriers, Border Collies, or Labradors are often adopted from rescue shelters and trained for the industry.  Trainers prefer the smaller breeds because they are less likely to scare the home owner and can be lifted to check out headboards or high shelves.

The ideal age is for the animal to be between 8 and 12 months when they start training but that does not mean older dogs are automatically eliminated.  All candidates undergo between 800 and 1000 hours of special training in mock hotel rooms before being certified.  In order to receive certification from the NESDCA, the dog must pass a test proving they can find life bedbugs.

Further more, a handler will spend between $8.000 and $15,000 for a trained certified dog and they themselves must undergo training with the dog for a minimum of a week so they learn to work together.  A bedbug sniffing dog will only work 8 to 9 years before being retired to enjoy life as a family pet.   A properly trained dog and his handler can earn in the area of $325 per hour or almost the same as a lawyer.

So now you know more about bedbug sniffing canines, their use and training.  let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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