Dog the newest tool for detecting bed bugs

Jordan Chittley
Daily Brew

The fight against the worldwide bed bug epidemic has a new soldier — a three-year-old chocolate Labrador named Dexter.

"He's proven himself in the field already with some real tough stuff," says Keith Rowan, a trainer with Pro Dog Detector Dog Services, in a Canoe.ca article. "He's found some stuff hidden in behind walls."

His handler, Rowan, put on a demonstration at a bed bug conference in Manitoba yesterday. Rowan started his North Dakota-based dog sniffing company in 2004 and regularly brings the dogs to Manitoba for work.

His website says the dogs are trained to locate one odor, either drugs or bed bugs. He spent six month training Dexter to sniff out the bugs and the dog can detect a single bug or egg in just a few minutes.

"A lot of companies are using them ... up to five times a year," says Rowan to Canoe.ca. A typical job may last three to four hours at Dexter's rate of $150 per hour.

According to Ontario-based Purity Pest Control, dogs have an almost 100 per cent success rate at identifying infested areas. In comparison, humans have only a 35 per cent success rate.

Michael Goldman trained Kody, the first bed bug sniffing dog in the world and has been using him for over five years now.

Because bed bugs are small and can hide almost anywhere, including behind walls and inside furniture, detecting them by sight is difficult. The dogs have the advantage because they are trained to pick up the bug's scent. Goldman's dogs were used to sniff out bed bugs last year during the Toronto International Film Festival after reports that a filmgoer was bit.

"It's a worldwide epidemic going on right now," says City of Winnipeg entomologist Taz Stuart in a Canoe.ca article. "We're on an increase phase — we're nowhere near a plateau."

(CP photo)