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Bed Bug Sniffing Dog

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  1. susanna

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Sun Aug 5 2007 22:48:25
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    I read about this here and wanted to get feedback from anyone who has used this or knows more. There is someone who comes to Boston regularly and will be here next week. I asked PCOs if they have worked with them and they said that information from the dog would not change what they do . They seemed to acknowledge that the dogs are useful in hotel setting and unnecessary in home situation. One said that having the dog com before treatment would not be helpful, although possibly after treatment. I am not sure if living room furniture is infested or about other areas of the apartment. They said that the technician could pick this up. Any comments would be appreciated.

  2. willow-the-wisp

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Sun Aug 5 2007 23:15:19
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    they said the tech "could" pick this up. They did not say she/he "will" pick up on it. Truth is ... bed bug proof is often lacking and therefore they often don't treat in some areas. Other hand--? Dogs are not cheap and I do think afterwards might be more helpful. never had a dog sniffing for bed bugs. What I've seen in vidios seems impressive. it is a lst resort measure for most I think.
    I'm hearing 90% accuracy on the dogs. If you know you have the bugs--it may be a waste of cash. If you carefully plot-out all you find" when where and at what time--log it and if you can, tape the specimens as I had said before.

    A good PCO will take that knowlege and use it to clear your home quicker. (Of course the info has to be correct that you DO give to him or her--and, if they've spread-out--then it will be less useful than in a new, more contained infestation.
    Same with the dog.
    If they are everywhere-- no amount of sniffing will ease your woes--but I don;t know what your infestaiton is like, really suanna
    willow
    out for night

  3. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Aug 6 2007 1:28:13
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    I would recommend a dog for those who are not sure they have bed bugs, if PCOs are having trouble finding them (eg early stages, well hidden bugs). In such cases, I think they can make a huge difference, assuming you have a PCO willing to take their word.

    I think the dogs CAN be useful for pinpointing where bed bugs are, or later, verifying they're gone. But this comes with the caveat that all bed bug dogs are not the same: so much depends on trainng of the dog and the tech.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  4. paulaw0919

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 10:48:40
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    Thanks you nobugs. I had called K-9 unit in CT. and he was going ot come down last week but I canceled. I called cooper but they were jsut doing and experiment and don't have the dog anymre. After speaking with the man he said that there have been alot of complaints about the guy on CT (he said this before I even said that I hired him) He said that people actually said that he may have planted a bug to show that the dog is accurate. He also mentioned that if the dog is smelling the cracks and crevises and there is a bug in the wall four inches above the dogs nose, then the bug can be missed. They saw this in their experiment with a bag of drugs. To me it sounds like you could still have them even if the dog gave an all clear. After i get thru this, if we ever get thru this I may or may not hire a dog for my own comfort. Especially for the van, stroller. Don't know yet.

  5. meckman

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 11:08:56
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    Hey, Paula,

    Cooper told me the same thing about the k-9 guys, and so I did a bit further investigating. I found out there are two groups who train the dogs in Fla, and the k-9 dog was trained by the original group; the trainer vouches for the dog, for what it's worth.

    I think it's not very professional of Cooper to be badmouthing another company, and I'm not sure why they do that, but Sean at the Bed Bug Resources said k-9 had been doing these bed bug assessments for a while, and he would be pretty comfortable with their assessment. That's not to say whether you should hire k-9 or not; in my opinion, it doesn't cast Cooper in the best light to be saying such things.

  6. paulaw0919

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 12:16:31
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    Thanks. I agree. At the same point I'm leary of hiring the guy in CT. I haven't been able to find another one that would come here. I can't hire someone frm FL and fly them out..($$$$)I guess That's something I have plenty of time to search...along with everyting else, right?! Worst case if I cann't find some one else, I may call him back for peace of mind.

  7. Bugalina

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 14:02:39
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    paula...I don't want to give out any peticulars but I think you were correct to cancel the Ct. dog sniffers... Cooper is a pretty reputable guy...and well even if it may have "not been right of him"....it actually might have been the right thing to do....

  8. (deleted)

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 17:24:44
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    Cooper's dog was trained by Pepe Peruyero. See this blog post. I agree it was not politic to badmouth the competition. Cooper is apparently a savvy businessperson. All of that, however, does not invalidate that his dog's training is plenty interesting. I am hoping a reliable bedbugger can give us info after trying Cooper's dog. (Some time ago, when I contacted Peruyero to ask if he had any dogs in the NYC area, Cooper is the only company he mentioned.)

    Bugalina, if you have more information that you can provide without disclosing particulars, it might be helpful. A lot of people need to consider bed bug dogs. People who are not allergic to bed bug bites are high on that list.

  9. Bugalina

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Aug 7 2007 17:45:00
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    Well I will post you a PM...but lets just say....I think Cooper was correct in his assessment to not use that person....

  10. parakeets

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 9 2007 10:09:40
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    I would certainly consider hiring a bedbug sniffing dog for a home inspection before I bought a condo (see my post about a possible condo infection in my town in Mass.)

    My bedbugs were deep in the wall voids and in the ceiling fixutres. I don't know how a bedbug-sniffing dog could detect them there. However dogs have superlative noses, and they can even detect things like skin cancer.

    I know from hearing reports of dogs that are trained to detect bodies in rubble at disaster scenes that there are many variables--the dog, the day, who's handling the dog, etc.--and I'm sure there are many variables in bedbug dogs too, but it doesn't negate the detection by smell that dogs do so well.

  11. SPDIBBK9Handler

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Aug 20 2007 7:39:21
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    Susana,

    I can't speak to how others use their K9s, but if it helps I can share some of our protocols with you. When presented with a house that has an infestation, and asked to do an estimate of the control cost, what comes into play is how intensive the treatment needs to be to get the job done. If you get an estimate for taking apart literally every piece of furniture in the entire house, most people need a de-fibulator after we quote the price. If you just treat the bed, or just the bedroom, I can pretty much tell you that you have nearly a 100% chance of NOT getting rid of all of them.

    This is where the dogs come in. I will give you two real life extreme examples of what we have done, so that you can apply it to your needs.
    One recent case we have, is an extremely obvious infestation. I went in to do my cursory tour of the house before even getting the dog out of the truck and saw live bugs crawling around in the middle of the day. This customer had been told by another company they just needed to treat the one bedroom, with a fogger of all things. I explained that we obviously didn't need the dog to verify the infestation, but that I would like to run the dogs through to get an idea of where all the bugs may be. As it turned out, the dog alerted in 4 of the 6 rooms in the house. (He skipped the kitchen and bathroom.) We then did a thorough visual inspection of all the items of furniture the dog alerted on, and were able to confirm the presence of the bugs on most, but not all of them. (One item that we couldn't find anything on, the customer found a live bug on later.) Based on this, during the intial treatment, we went ahead and treated all the items the dog alerted on just to be safe. We also treated every room that the dog alerted in as if it were fully infested- pulling up carpet, dusting all light switches and power outlets, etc. . The customers went from massive bites pre-treatment, to the point that when we went back 2 weeks later, they had not seen any live bugs, and had only suffered a couple of bites. We are currently scheduled to return with the dogs 2 weeks after the second treatment to verify control, and to treat any items that the dogs re-alert on. (Yes, dogs. Barring visual confirmation of a single dog alert, we prefer running a second dog through for verification.)

    In another case, we received a call from a family that had recently purchased a bunch of used furniture, and whose daughter was now suffering from a massive number of bites. Initial visual inspection revealed nothing. We ran two dogs through the entire house, and had no hits (other than a controlled hide we always place to verify that the dogs are working). Upon taking a more detailed history from the client, we advised them to take their daughter to a physician, as her "bites" were showing up one day, and would be completely cleared up the next. (my no-medical training opinion was it sounded like an allergic reaction, when the source of the allergy was removed, the rash cleared). I have never seen a bedbug bite disappear in one day. For this family, we did not recommend, nor did we do any treatment.

    As others have noted, the dogs are a tool... one that we find critical in helping us find the insects we would miss, and also to give people a reasonable bit of peace of mind that the bugs are gone.

    As to accuracy of the dogs, the University of Florida is currently doing testing on the dogs using a grant from NPMA, so when that research is published we will all know.

    The 90%+ rating you often hear is most likely based on the results of testing on termite dogs, who were able to work at up to 95%+ accuracy.

    From personal experience, yes, the dogs will miss some bugs. Especially those that are higher up. But they are at least 5X more effective than the best technician I have seen, and roughly 20X faster. When combined with an experienced tech, I honestly think they are the best detection tool we have for light to medium infestations.

    As to the various training methods.. when we went to research the dogs to see if they fit our business model, I spoke with 3 different trainers. One struck me as more concerned about selling dogs, and didn't care as much about protocols, verification, or even honestly, the health of the dogs. One was difficult to reach, and did not return calls. The third was quite frankly amazing. He was concerned with not just selling us something, but in making sure that we knew what we were doing, that we had all the tools to make a decision, and that the dog(s) AND the handlers would be ready to field the day we brought the dogs home. Needless to say, we got our dogs from the third party mentioned.

    On a personal note, my philosophy on pest control methods is that we should use the best tool that is economically feasible to use. For right now, for us, that is the dogs. When/IF someone develops a chemical that costs $5 to treat a house, the dogs won't be needed. If someone develops a star-trek like sensor that shows you where every bug in the structure is, and gets the cost under $50,000.00, we won't need the dogs. Until then, we'll enjoy having some company with us while we work.

  12. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Aug 20 2007 13:23:07
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    The problem right now is that we're waiting for bed bug dogs to be certified. Many of us have one dog in our area, probably uncertified, and we need to ask whether that dog catches only live bugs, or if s/he pinpoints bed bugs (regardless of whether live or dead).

  13. wantmyskinback

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Aug 20 2007 14:53:23
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    I used the two guys in CT this past Spring. They came over within minutes of my call because they were in the area working in a nearby fancy HOTEL ! They are supposedly brothers (but they do not look alike although they look like COPS ). They came by in K-9 uniform with their dog and told my doorman they were here to "train the dog" that I have because I did not want anyone knowing.
    The dog went into my bedroom with her owner and the door closed. I wasn't allowed to watch!!! I could hear him say to her "seek seek seek" and then one "bark". That's when she sniffs something. Supposedly after 5 treatments and a wash down with Steam and Murphy's Oil...she found 3 spots. I was shocked since I'd hadn't seen ANY bugs ever...only bites. She found NOTHING in my kids' rooms or the living room couch. I removed the 3 items after taking them apart...saw NOTHING hiding in them.
    A week later they came back for annother look through free of charge. They brought their other dog (who was absolutely beautiful by the way) and found my place "clear".
    The reason why everyone thinks these guys are not reputable is probably their "style" and work ethic. They are not organized or classy. And they give the impression they are only in this line of work for the money and not for the true desire to help people.

  14. SSMITH

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Aug 20 2007 15:19:56
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    I used the guy from K-9 in Connecticut and found him to be very pleasant - kinda shocked that everyone had a bad impression. He spent a great deal of time with me and offered to come back after treatment to see if the dog would pick up on anything. I haven't taken him up on his offer yet as I am still in treatment - at the moment I am using two different PCOs that both use completely different pesticides for the problem - only when I did this did I start to see dead bugs...

  15. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Aug 20 2007 17:19:06
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    SSMITH,
    I don't think enough customers have commented on this company to say that "everyone" has a bad impression. We have now heard one or two bad impressions, and one or two good ones.

    And just to clarify, several people above claimed to be repeating something said by an owner of a competing company. It's hearsay, and the alleged speaker is in direct competition with the subject of criticism.

  16. paulaw0919

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Aug 20 2007 21:01:59
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    I used a dog from Mitebusters..I found them thru a conversation with Bill Whitstein (sorry for improper spelling of the name) Both dogs from Advanced K9 and Mitebusters were trained by him in FLorida, the owners were trained by him and both the dogs and trainers I believe are certified. There is a chance that the dogs will pick up the smell of dead or live bugs as wll as cast skins and even poop. THey are used as a guide but I don't believe they can tell you if you have gotten totally rid of an infestation. They are a useful tool..if you can afford it. As it was put to me...."If you were to take a human and squish it dead, would it smell any diffent from a live human?" I think yes if they were dead a long time....Saying that I was told that they were trained on dead and live bugs but you cannot be sure ofwhich the animal is detecting...

  17. SPDIBBK9Handler

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Aug 20 2007 22:19:04
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    Nobugsonme,
    I can understand the frustration and impatience anyone who wants a certified detection dog feels. The only thing I can suggest is ask the people offering the services of their dogs if they are NESDCA certified, and if they aren't, why not, or when are they getting certified. The certification itself is done at no charge, and there will be certification trials done at Pestworld in October. Any handler that wants certification sooner just needs to cover the expense of having the evaluators travel to them, or they can travel to the evaluator. It was set up this way so there is no fiscal benefit to NESDCA to give a passing grade. Either the dog works, or it doesn't. There are other certifications we know of out there, but they are almost always given by the person who sells the dog. We feel this is an inherent conflict of interest, as someone who sold you a product obviously will not want to tell you later that what you have purchased doesn't work. I'm sorry if that approach makes anyone upset, but to me as the PCO consumer of detection K-9s, I want to know imperically and independantly that the product I purchase and ask my customers to put their faith in is indeed doing what I want it to do.

    Paula0919,

    I hate to say it, but the person who told you the dogs can not discriminate was just plain wrong. It is possible their dogs were not trained to to alert on live only, as the training process is longer, but actually the dogs can even tell the difference between viable and non-viable eggs. What are they smelling? I have no idea. How do I know they can? Part of the process of continual training is doing what is called "proofing" the dog. When we proof the dog, we set controlled hides out, some of which have live bugs, some which have fecal matter, some that have nothing but the container, some with dead bugs, etc... we then run the dogs through with the handler not knowing where the hides are, or which hide is which, and determine if the dogs are alerting on just the live bugs, or are doing what we call a false hit on the distractors. This does take time. We spend at least an hour a day just doing continual training with our dogs. This is in addition to the time working them in field, where we also do addtional training, as we always place a known controlled hide in the structure we are checking. (usually we actually allow the client to place it, so the handler does not know where it is... we feel this gives the customer a better level of confidence in the dog's abilities.) In fact, for NESDCA certification, the dogs are NOT allowed to hit on a distractor or they fail. This is also true of termite dogs. As to a dead human vs. a live human, the answer again, for a dog would be yes. It is hard for us to imagine what the dog is able to smell, but they can. To use a recent news item, the cat at the nursing home that can tell when the patients there are about die... the odds are very good that it is using scent discrimination.
    It is possible the handlers of the dogs you saw simply did not know any better, so I am not saying they lied to you, and please don't take it that way. There is a lot of conflicting information out there, and sometimes it is hard to figure out what is reality. Before I paid for our dogs, I verified for myself that they were able to do what was claimed. But I'm also somewhat obsessive, and very much overly geeky when it comes to bugs and detection methods. (my wife claims i'm a complete geek, especially after I get back from a conference, and she has to tune me out for 3 days as I go on about say, the 19 different species of termites in Florida, and how lucky we are in NC to only have 4, and really it only 3 in our area... (can you see why she might tune me out?)) My other issue is that if I tell a customer something, I want to be able to back what I say up with references and source material.. A lot of PCOs may cringe to hear me say this, but you may be better off to do some independant verification of anything a PCO says. Most are honest, hardworking people. Some are not, and the image of the industry as a whole suffers greatly from this. The other thing is that even with a reputable company, there are sometimes mis-informed or poorly trained techs. Really.
    I have probably ranted far too much, and for anyone who made it to the end of this particular rant, thanks for putting up with it. It is just a subject kind of close to home for me.

  18. wantmyskinback

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Aug 20 2007 22:49:00
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    wow. thanks spd...etc...handler !!! this is really interesting information. do you know of a dog out on eastern long island i can hire?

  19. paulaw0919

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Aug 21 2007 9:14:29
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    ANd waht about northern NJ?

  20. Bun

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Aug 21 2007 23:35:22
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    Susanna, I wanted to answer your question first. A well trained and maintained bed bug scent dog can be useful in your home. They can assist in locating where the bed bugs are, which should reduce the cost of treatment, the number of treatments and the amount of chemicals utilized in your home (if steam is not). If it's a large infestation with visable signs, no you don't need a dog except assisting in follow-up treatments. However scent dogs that alert to live and dead bed bugs will not help you. After treatment you should use a scent dog that is trained to only locate live bed bugs or your treatments may continue forever with the dog alerting to dead bugs. If you would like more information regarding dogs that are trained and certified to only alert to live bugs, check out http://www.NESDCA.com. Their certification standards only allow single scent trained dogs and they can only alert to live bed bugs or viable eggs. NESDCA also has not only Pest Control Operators to answer further questions but K-9 Advisors and Entomoligists from several Universities.

    I also wanted to note the squish of the human. First a quick background so it's understood why I am commentting on this. I am a retired Law Enforcement K-9 handler, and was the Training Coordinator for my Agency. I worked Patrol Dogs trained to find live humans, but I also worked a Cadaver Dog. I am still a current State and National Certified Trainer and Evaluator for Law Endorcement K-9's. Upon the death of a human, decomposition begins in approximately 5 minutes, enviromental factors considered. Decomposition at these early stages are usually undetected by a humans sense of smell but not for a properly trained dog. Properly trained means the dog must be introduced to this early stage of decomposition and trained to alert for that odor. At demostrations we would give this food for thought to understand a dogs sense of smell. "What do you smell when you walk in to a pizza parlor." Every response, every time was pizza. Which we do, but "the dog smells every ingrediant used on the pizza and that of which it's made with." Can the dog determine a live or dead bed bug, yes. As someone else stated before, with proper training and proofing, yes they can.

    Dogs are a great tool, but only if trained, maintained, and used correctly. They're also not perfect, but research has proven they are better at detection than us humans. Educate yourself, a dog for either purchase or use is an investment, shop around and ask questions.

    Last I just wanted to say that many times comments made by someone are taken out of content or incorrectly perceived. Regarding Rick Cooper, I would encourge anyone with concerns to contact him directly. As a friend who knows him personally, I'm sure he would discuss the matter.

    Thanks goes to bedbugger for this forum.

  21. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Aug 21 2007 23:49:41
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    Regarding Richard Cooper, it sounds like two of our readers did speak with him directly as they noted.

  22. Bugalina

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 8:21:44
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    Bun..Thank you very much for this informative post. To date, do you know any PCO on Long Island who is using the trained ( for live bbs.) on Long Island ? I just got a call from a friend yesterday who wanted a PCO recommendation. It seems her Aunts friend who lives in Kings Park got bbs from a BandB in Maine. I hope I don't ever need it but knowing that a capable dog works Long Island would be a reassuring thing...Thank you so much for helping us out here.....

  23. RichardCooper

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 16:16:19
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    There have been several forum entries that have discussed things that I have said regarding trainers, handlers and companies that offer scent detection services. These forum entries are not accurate and are misleading. I have had very mixed feelings as to whether or not I should bother taking the time to reply and ultimately decided to respond simply to set the record straight

    At no time have I ever said anything derogatory about a specific trainer, handler, or company that offers canine scent detection. As a result I would appreciate that individuals not suggest that I have.

    I have spoken publicly regarding my concerns about some of the accuracy claims that are being made suggesting that bed bug sniffing dogs are working at a rate of 90% plus accuracy.

    I have also received several calls from consumers that have had been told that they had bed bugs as a result of an inspection performed by companies using bed bug sniffing dogs. My company’s response to these individuals has always been that we are unwilling to accept the results of another company’s inspection. We have also cautioned these same people that we question accuracy claims of 95-97%. We have also received calls from individuals that have shared with us stories regarding bugs being planted, at best the reply from one of our staff may have been that they have heard similar claims, however we have not perpetuated these stories as we have no grounds on which to base the validity of such claims and would certainly hope that no one would actually consider doing such a thing.

    To take a leap from the type of comments that I have made and to suggest that I have singled out any individual dog trainer or inspection service is out of line and is an inappropriate representation.

    I view this as a personal insult and would appreciate that my comments not be taken out of context.

    Anyone that has heard me speak on the subject of canine scent detection for bed bugs should understand that I am an advocate of the subject but that I also have concerns. I have no qualms admitting that I caution individuals about claims that appear too good to be true and suggest that the consumer should request documentation that clearly supports the claims that are being made. Never have I bad-mouthed an individual or company. I also reserve the right to decide if I want to accept the inspection results of another firm regardless of what inspection methods used.

    There have also been comments on the bedbugger site about Cooper Pest Solutions returning a bed bug dog. We spent a number of months evaluating a bed bug sniffing dog and did in fact return it once our evaluation was complete. Our assessment of the inspection technique is that we believe it can be a highly effective method if the dog has been trained correctly and is handled correctly. In addition, we also believe that a two dog system for verification purposes is also necessary to better address the subject of false alerts. I recently had a discussion with a dog trainer in Florida who made the point that in order to truly address the false alert issue you need to use two different handlers in addition to two different dogs which I would fully concur with. The question becomes how much assurance do you want in your results and how much are you willing to pay for the increased level of assurance? Suffice it so say, if my organization chooses to offer bed bug dog detection services it will be with a two dog system. I have the uptmost confidence in the trainer that we worked with (J&K Canine Academy) and would work with them again in the future should we decide to move forward with canine scent detection for bed bugs.

    I do not intend to get into a back and forth discussion regarding this subject. Those who know me understand that I hold to very high ethical standards.

    I hope this clears up exactly what my position is.
    Richard Cooper

  24. Bugalina

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 17:04:19
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    Mr. Cooper...I would never expect you to compromise your professional integrity, but I do thank you for the above info.. I have said from the start that I am suspect of the ability of these dogs. Bed Bugs require preciseness...If scent dogs are precise then I more than welcome them...if they are not, then this must be disclosed...

  25. buggeroff

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 17:30:15
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    Richard, wait. Don't go away. I have a question.

    A PCO who works with dogs described his inspection methods and one of the things he said was really interesting but now I see it may be open to very serious misinterpretation. He says they do plant a bug. They do it to be sure the dog is working and alerts where he is supposed to alert. Now, I assume the plant is done in a manner that doesn't allow escape of the bug - maybe it's sealed up in something with very small air holes or maybe it's dead - I don't know. But I thought it sounded like a reasonable test of the dog's efforts and I guess anyone who saw it or heard about it could really panic.

    When you were doing your evaluation, was this not part of the protocol for working with the dog?

    As for "97% accuracy", I hunt with dogs and appreciate their skill, but very few individuals of any species do anything with 97% accuracy!

    And while I have your attention (if I have it). On your website, you discuss bite-proof mattress covers. Does "bite proof" mean that a bug inside the encasement cannot bite a person lying on top of it? How is that achieved - with padding or a particular fabric? Is it right to say that one of thes would not be helpful for the box spring?

  26. SPDIBBK9Handler

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 20:59:54
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    Richard,

    I hate to do this, but I must respectfully disagree with you on some points. In regards to claims of 90%+ accuracy, the certification standards developed by NESDCA REQUIRE at a minimum, a 90% accuracy rate. To date there are several dogs that have certified meeting that accuracy standard. It is true that the market has been flooded with dogs trained to a much lower standard, and it is very difficult for the end consumer to tell the difference by simply looking at a dog or talking to a handler which dog is which. It may be those dogs that your are referring to. That goes to the very core of why NESDCA was formed. Will every dog perform well above that 90% mark every inspection? The simple answer is no. But even if a dog meets the minimum standard of 90%, you are looking at a tool at least twice as effective as a human inspector alone. And several orders of magnitude faster.

    buggeroff, as an aside, I believe it is Customs dogs that are REQUIRED by their standards to be 100% accurate. So it certainly can be done. It is expensive, and time consuming, and huge numbers of dogs wash out. That is the difference between 90%, 95%, and 100%... it an almost exponential growth in cost vs. return. What any particular task requires is determining where the point of diminishing returns reaches the point of "good enough". If it a dog that is dealing with a life or death situation, I want that 100% dog a bunch more than I do a 90% dog. If it is termites or bedbugs, honestly, 90% is probably a very reasonable expectation.

    As to the multiple dogs with multiple handlers... I agree there is a very real need for 2 dogs. I see no reason you need multiple handlers. The truth is, even with 1 dog you could in theory work out a decent protocol to deal with the threat of a false alert.. something along the lines of barring visual evidence at the location of the hit, returning on a different day and just working that area. But this increases the labor cost by a huge factor. The biggest cost in any inspection or treatment practice is not really the dog. It is the handler and the associated labor cost. With two dogs and 1 handler, you reduce that labor cost (at an increase in fixed cost), and still can get the confirmation on the hit. I guess this debate on 1 or 2 handlers could fall under the category of getting a certainty factor of 98% instead of 90-95%.. but at a 100% increase in the cost.

    From a marketability standpoint, there is no way hotels would pay the added cost, and while the very wealthy residential customer could foot the bill, most of the discussions I see on this forum are on how to get costs of treatment and inspections down to the level of affordable for most.

    Richard, I very much respect your opinion, even if I differ from it on this topic. You certainly also hold many people's respect for your ethical standards. I certainly look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas in a few weeks.

  27. SPDIBBK9Handler

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 21:09:36
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    Buggaroff,
    Sorry, I got involved in the answer to Richard, and forgot to cover the controlled hides we use. In our case we do have live bedbugs only (we remove all dead bugs, and castoff skins, and replace the substrate the bugs are on daily to reduce the possibility of hitting on destractors)but they are held in a clear plastic tube with a screw on top. There is a hole drilled in the end of the tube, and before the cap is screwed on we place a mesh screen over the top. As the cap screws down, tightens the screen and the screen fills the groves on the cap, so there is no possible escape for the bedbugs or their eggs, just the scent. We then wrap tape around the bottom of the cap, making sure that the cap can not spin off, or be taken off easily by someone being curious with it. If anything, this reduces the scent coming from the hide. We then have the hide placed where neither the handler nor the dog could visually spot it (under a cushion, taped to the bottom of the table, etc.) Preferably by someone whose scent already permeates the environment we are running the dog in (i.e. the homeowner) so that there can be no question of the dog simply following the scent of the handler to the hide. To ensure that it isn't just the plastic tube the dogs are finding, when we proof the dog, we also include hides that are a tube set up exactly as we do for the bedbugs, but simply with no bugs present. Hope that clears that up for you. Sorry to scare anyone. I don't place hides without the customer having a chance to look at the tube and make sure for themselves that the bugs can't escape. If I didn't make any of that clear (my wife says I write oddly) please let me know and I will try to clear it up further if needed.

  28. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 21:13:23
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    Welcome Richard,

    I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

    I hope you will continue to participate at bedbugger.com.

    I would suggest that if K9Handler and others feel the discussion about the effectiveness of the dogs is an important discussion, it might continue in the thread on the blog where it started, and where you will reach a wider audience.
    http://bedbugger.com/2007/08/14/consumers-before-you-hire-one-find-out-what-that-bed-bug-dog-can-do/#comment-5458

  29. Bugalina

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 21:30:40
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    SPHandler....This was a very good explanation....thank you...

  30. Bun

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    Wed Aug 22 2007 22:18:56
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    Bugalina and buggeroff, I know your responding to Rick Cooper's post, but questions were brought up that I would like to explain. This post is by no means directed at either of you. Accuracy levels are based on the dog smelling the scent it's trained for and then providing some type of "alert" whether sit, scratch, etc. They can only alert if and when they come in to scent. NOTE: A properly trained dog should work that scent to it's source or as close to it the dog can possibly get then alert. Many enviromental factors effect scent. Example: Your searching past a closed door of a room with an A/C intake vent and air is being pulled in to the room to the intake vent. If you don't enter that room and/or turn off the A/C, the dog may not alert to bugs it's trained for just inside the door because the scent of the bugs are being sucked in the room and the dog is on the outside of the door. Air currents are only one factor that affect scent. This is just to give an example but again, if the dog can't get scent they can't tell (alert) you the bugs are there. To the best of my knowledge there is only one training facility that has completed scientific research, which was through the University of Florida. The research was done on termite dogs, these findings were published and can be viewed at http://www.nesdca.com/ufresearch.pdf
    This same facility is currently conducting research involving bed bug dogs. How the dogs were tested and where the percentage of accuracy comes from is explained in the published findings. The findings of this research reflects only training methods used at that facility. There are numerous ways to train dogs. Different methods may produce different results involving the accuracy of the dogs. If you are considering or inquiring about contracting, leasing, or purchasing a Scent Detection Dog. Speak to several trainers, ask LOTS of questions, get refrences, guaranteed signed contracts, and ask more questions.

  31. Fatherbug

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 8:16:37
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    I work in one aspect of this industry, but I don't handle these dogs..that being said I have seen dog handlers using the bed bugs dogs in a demonstration situation. The dog (or it's trainer) failed miserably. I hid 3 vials with live bed bugs in a room, and the dog did not find ANY of them. The trainer then gave me their own vials which they used to train their dog. I looked at the vials, the bugs were all dead. I hid them. the dog found 1 out of 3 of those. So i'm not sure whether to blame the dog or the trainer here, but as a team they were ineffective. The trainer seemed like she didn't care that they failed. She also kind of seemed proud that she found the one. I'm not sure how it works in this field, but when I went to school...1 out of 6 (or even 1 out of 3) was failing. I would not hire a dog to sniff out bed bugs. I'm wouldn't be worried about false positives, I'd be more concerned with the bugs the dogs missed.

  32. Bun

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    Thu Aug 23 2007 9:22:00
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    This is very unfortunate and exactly why NESDCA was formed. Dogs certified through them fail if they alert to anything other than LIVE bed bugs. I encourage you to check them out and look at the standards that dogs certified through them must meet. Again I really want to stress before making an investment in a scent dog, talk with several trainers, ask LOTS of questions and get a signed written guarantee.

  33. SPDIBBK9Handler

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    Thu Aug 23 2007 9:22:48
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    Fatherbug,

    I am saddened to hear your story of a handler that very obviously did not know what they were doing, or as you indicated, even seem to care. Those are the types of teams that we (NESDCA) want to weed out of consideration by the end consumer. If the insects in the vials they were using were dead, then obviously they were not training the dog to detect live bedbugs. I don't need a dog that finds bugs I've already killed. As good as I think I am at this, even I can't kill a bug twice. The only defense I could conceive of for missing the live hides you placed would be the length of time the hides were in place. Generally speaking, the "wild" bugs have been in a location for quite a while, and the scent has had a chance to spread around for the dog to home in on. That said, I have had no problems with our dogs finding hides left in place for as little as 10 minutes. (NESDCA does cover this issue... the standard there is actually 15 minutes in place before testing commences). Some hide locations are obviously harder than others... buried behind books on a bookshelf comes to mind as there is not a lot in the way of air currents to spread the scent in a short period of time. There also isn't a scent trail where the bugs have traveled for the dog to follow. That being said, I often try to push the envelop on our hides, placing them deep inside chairs and couches, half way under beds and such... but in those cases I give the hide 24 hours before I run the dog on them. My thinking on these tougher hides is that they better represent that lone dispersed bug that we are trying to locate in the field. I would say to you fatherbug, please don't discount all k-9s on the basis of 1 dog. Depending on where you are, I would be glad to see if we can arrange for a demonstration for you by a certified team, and you can place all the hides you'd like.

  34. meckman

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 12:31:02
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    I just want to respond to Richard Cooper's post. I did not speak with Mr. Cooper himself, but I did call Cooper Pest Control and speak with one of the technicians (I'm sorry, I don't remember the name of the technician I spoke with). We discussed bed bug dogs, and I told the technician about my experience with Advanced K9 Detectives. The technician told me that other customers had wondered if the head of Advanced K9 Detectives, Carl Massicott, had "planted" a bed bug in their house to prove his dog was accurate. The technician also told me he had his doubts about Advanced K9. That, to me, is singling out a specific company and a specific handler. And that is what lead to my comment about Cooper being unprofessional.

  35. DouglasSummersMS

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Sun Aug 26 2007 9:23:21
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    Group,
    I have been watching this discussion with great interest from the sidelines, but I think it is time to speak up.

    Unfortunately NESDCA seems to be little more than a marketing ploy for selling J & K trained dogs. NESDCA appears to have an incestuous relationship with J & K, Cooper Pest Control & the University of Florida . To my knowledge, only K9 teams trained by Pepe have been "certified" by this so-called "independent" organization.

    Consumers and industry alike would benefit from a truly independent organization that evaluates the effectiveness of K9 teams. Check out http://www.swgdog.org to see a set of guideline standards that have been created in a transparent process by a credible organization of international experts. A protocol for the evaluation of bed bug detection K9s will be forthcoming from the SWGDOG organization.

    At this point, I am thoroughly disgusted by the lack of business ethics that has been demonstrated by my competition. Malicious hearsay and sham organizations are not going to help consumers or the industry sort out which K9 teams are competent or trustworthy.

    I will wait for SWGDOG to publish guidelines for Pest Control. I will then seek a meaningful evaluation from an unbiased organization to demonstrate my K9's capabilities in accordance with SWGDOG guidelines.

    Doug Summers MS
    K9 Handler
    BedBugDogs at AOL.com

  36. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Sun Aug 26 2007 14:35:35
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    Doug,

    Thank you for your comments about certification and bed bug dogs.

    As a lay person, I don't quite understand why a second bed bug dog certification body, with its own guidelines and standards, could not step forward and compete with the first, as it sounds like SWGDOG plans to do. In other emerging fields, it is not unusual to have more than one body certifying professionals. At least for a time, until one emerges as stronger.

    I have read the NESDCA guidelines and look forward to reading those SWGDOG is coming up with for bed bug detection dogs.

    I have greatly valued your participation on Bedbugger. I hope that we can provide a forum for bed bug professionals as well as bed bug sufferers to discuss the issues.

  37. DougSummersMS

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Aug 28 2007 14:39:17
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    NBOM

    At this point, K9 trainers' are certifying their own dogs.

    The issues are credibility and conflicts of interest. Each provider has an inherent interest in producing competent K9 teams, but who can the consumer trust? Each group will develop a track record / reputation. There are competing organizations that test & certify different groups of scent detection K9's such as Search, Cadaver, Mold & Arson dogs, for example.

    SWGDOG does not test or certify service dogs. They are an academic group that produces guideline standards, which means that they do not have a conflict of interest. The protocols are written by international experts with public input built into the process.

    The issue of using two K9 teams is an interesting concept, but I don't feel it is necessary for most applications. After the dog alerts, a responsible handler will attempt to obtain a visual confirmation at the location of the alert. If we find adequate visual evidence (i.e. live specimens), then what would be the point of using a second K9?

    Whether it is appropriate to treat on the basis of a K9 alert without additional confirmation is an interesting issue. Should the dog be utilized as a screening mechanism or as a source of confirmation? The K9 assisted inspection can identify a well defined area for the traditional visual search to provide confirmation of a current infestation.

    I have been writing for some time that properly trained K9s can be taught to discriminate between viable and nonviable specimens. A K9 search is less than 100% accurate, but this is the most accurate instrument that has ever been developed for screening and surveillance for early detection. Ninety percent is the accepted target rate for accuracy, but like "EPA gas mileage estimates" your experience may vary from the published results.

    I was really upset about the allegations of “planting bed bugs” when I wrote my last post; I apologize for the hostile tone of my language. My point is that the new association appears to be a pretty exclusive club at this juncture. If the teams they certify perform well in the field then the consumer’s interest is still served. I just don’t feel that their certification is any more valid or independent than a competent trainers’ certification.

    The bigger problem for the industry will be untrained people who think their little dog "Fluffy" will make a dandy scent detection dog because she can balance a treat on her nose real well.

    I am learning that this K9 pest control industry is a cut-throat business. I am real disappointed by the unprofessional conduct that seems to be driven by a desire to gain a market share by any means necessary. Personal attacks will not benefit the industry or the consumer in the long run.

    As Rodney King once remarked, “Can’t we all just get along?

    Doug Summers MS
    K9 Handler

  38. joenobugs

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    Tue Sep 4 2007 19:29:33
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    Thought you that subscribe to this feed might be interested in this article. http://pct.texterity.com/pct/200708/ after clicking this link then click on "Four-Legged Bed Bug Detectives" on the right.
    Also as a side note to this feed. I checked out http://www.nesdca.com and they very clearly allow anyone to join their organization. It says "Our next Accreditation will be held during NPMA Pest World 2007. We welcome all Bed Bug & Termite Detection Canine Teams to apply for Accreditation no matter where trained or who trained by." then also on their Events page it says "University of Florida seeks K-9 Bed Bug Detection Teams to participate in study funded by NPMA, if interested in participating please contact NESDCA at 1-877-610-3082 for details, all Bed Bug Detection Dog Teams are encouraged to participate." This does not sound like an "Exclusive Club" to me. It sounds like this organization is trying to unite not devide. I have yet to hear them (NESDCA) say anything (on their site or any where else) negative about any other organizations. They seem to be a pretty positive minded group of professionals. I also noticed they have Professionals on their board of advisors from more than just Florida. That does not seem incestuous to me as I have heard some claim. I agree with Mr. Summers and Rodney King more gets done when we "all get along"

  39. TorontoBugged

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Sep 4 2007 20:29:36
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    I called a bed bug sniffing dog service after seeing it on the net but the guy turned out to be a crock. After I told him, I had already had 1 treatment and complained about the poor service from my last PCO he obviously didn't want me as a customer.

    He also said that the dogs were only useful if the place wasn't yet treated because the dog couldn't discern between dead and live bugs.

    And I guess I shouldn't be surprised but there are people working in the industry lurking as members on this forum. Thanks to those of you who introduced yourselves first and used your real names. It demonstrates full disclosure, transparency and is a sign of professionalism. That being said, I usually test and do my own research before jumping on a product that others promote/support online.

  40. (deleted)

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    Tue Sep 4 2007 21:11:28
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    Anyone can read the NESDCA bylaws here. It's an interesting read and if you read closely the sections on membership and, especially, the certification requirements, you can come to your own conclusions. Two things to note: the no dual scent training rule and the inspection state license requirement will probably exclude many at the starting gate. There is no way to read this otherwise.

    However, I actually think that institutionalizing Peruyero's expertise may have been an organic process, and not a conspiracy. He apparently has been working with University of Florida researchers for many years.

    The politics behind the real issues here are disheartening but I hope market forces do their work for the benefit of consumers.

  41. dawnsimonds2

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Oct 29 2007 10:34:18
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    I just wanted to comment on this topic because I've used Advanced K9 Detectives and Carl Massicott more than once and always had a pleasant experience. Yes, he's a little 'gruff'. He doesn't show up in a suit and he's not a supermodel, but he seems to care and be concerned with his work. In addition, I contacted the National Pest Management Association and he is accredited and recognized by them as a legitimate and competant K9 handler. In addition, I spoke with him, and he is currently pursuing NEDSCA certification as well in addition to having been trained by Bill Whitstine at the Florida Canine Academy so his company appears to be quite legit. As far as smelling bugs high up in a room, he explained to me that the dog will begin to start 'jumping' on things, i.e. furniture, beds, etc. if he/she is sniffing something high up in a room that is suspect. If you have a ceiling fan above your bed, for example and the bugs are in the fan, the dog will jump up on the beg and begin barking and jumping up towards the fan. Similar situation with closets and other high up places. I witnessed this myself as the dog jumped up on the my furniture to get a closer look at things higher up. In addition, Mr. Massicott has even lowered the fee he charged each time he worked with me and at one point, even met us out on the road to sniff my husband's computer because we were concerned about bugs harboring in it. So from my experience, his work seems to be quite thorough and competant. Just wanted to give my two cents, for what it's worth.

    Dawn

  42. nyjammin

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    Mon Nov 5 2007 13:31:36
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    Since bbs can be in the walls, can bb sniffing dogs detect this? Would the dogs bark at a wall in a specific area? Specific areas in ceilings?

  43. Bencannon

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    Tue Nov 6 2007 13:08:10
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    Very interesting. Two of our neighbors looked into the bb sniffing dogs but had the same conclusion. The dogs were not able to tell the difference between dead or live bedbugs. I have yet to come across any dogs that can play poker.

  44. Nobugsonme

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    Mon Nov 12 2007 21:22:43
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    I ask all bed bug dog professionals (and other bed bug professionals) to read the "Warning" under the green stickies at the top of the main forums page, which has just been updated:

    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/1146?replies=2

    [Admin update 2011: Consumers considering hiring bed bug sniffing dogs should read our FAQ on canine scent detection which is much more recent than the discussion above.]


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