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Discouraged with K9 Detection: An Important Discussion

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  1. stressed96

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 3 2017 2:14:44
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    If you would like to read my original (very long) situation then feel free to look at my last post.
    I'd like to begin by saying that I truly believe the use of k9s can be a wonderful tool in detecting bed bugs! But I also have had one of the most stressful weeks of my life because of them and thats saying a lot considering I am in nursing school. I encourage you to read if you are thinking of hiring a K9 detection team.

    Basically I have had the same K9 team come to my duplex 3 TIMES IN 2 MONTHS. Yes you read that correctly. Why the same company you may ask? Where I live there is not much to choose from, and none of them are registered with NEDSCA anyways, so I went with the very few online reviews I could find.

    Late November I called an independent K9 team and the man was very nice and seemed knowledgeable. He pulled up to my duplex in an SUV that had 3 german shepherd dogs (this is important to remember) in there separate cages. He came in with 1 dog, and it did not alert. That was all there was to it. I was ecstatic to say the least. The whole month of December went stress free with no bites.

    Early January comes around and I get bites again. You'd think after a month I would think of other causes besides bed bugs, but that doesn't fit my high anxiety self. I call the K9 team again. Not only does the man and 1 dog search my duplex, but also my parents house (just to rule it out). You guessed it, no alert. The rest of January went bite free until...

    January 25th, when the whole freak out starts again. This time it was 2 BLD pattern bites on my legs and I couldn't bear the thought. I called the same team again. He pulled up to my duplex, with his 3 dogs. The first dog came in and did not alert. In the past, that would've been it. But this time he brought in a second dog. This one DID alert on one side of my mattress. Interesting, I thought. The handler then immediately gave the reward (a green ball) to the dog WITHOUT visually confirming! That should've been a red flag but not at the time. Then he brought in the third dog. This one also alerted to the same side of mattress where the second dog hit. Again, he immediately rewarded.

    *heres the kicker* this man brings in the first dog that did NOT alert and now all of a sudden it alerts on the same place! Can you imagine my confusion?? We start to look for visual confirmation to no avail. I had already done this so many times. I even went as far as to take my dust cover off of box spring and had searched several times. Of course, he found nothing either. I asked if he always helped his clients look the way he was helping me and he said no! Red flag number 2. I was so convinced that I had a crazy strain of invisible bed bugs that I set up a chemical treatment the next day. The (highly reputable) PCO told me I should hold off until I find actual physical evidence. She had already been to my duplex during the first set of bites and told me I didn't have bed bugs.

    This past week has been a nightmare. I've barely slept, I spent over 3 hours searching high and low with a magnifying glass and LED flashlight. I emptied out every drawer, got on hands and knees to check base boards, turned my bedside tables upside down to check every inch of them. Checked curtains. You name it, I checked it. I found nothing but carpet beetles and their larvae.

    Here are some things to consider:
    * Bed bug dogs are not as accurate as I thought at least in my situation. I know it all boils down to the handler, but I was extremely discouraged.
    * A reward should not be given until the alert has been visually confirmed by handler. This leads to false positives.
    * This man is using what I believe to be called the "Rick Cooper 2nd dog verification system". He brings more than one dog with him, if it gets a positive alert, he will bring in another to confirm.
    Makes sense right? He wants to be sure. Well what about my case where he brought in the same dog twice within 30 minutes? This seems like a very sloppy way of handling. There are so many factors that come into play at this point, and neither I nor the handler can have a way of determining who is actually right.

    Think about it. The handler keeps bed bug vials in his vehicle with him (in a pouch). The dogs associate the smell of their training viles with the car, with their fellow dogs around them, etc. The first dog did not alert. The second dog alerted. Is this because he could sense the dog before him was in my room for a long time or is it because he really found a bed bug scent? He got awarded. The third dog comes in, alerts in the same place. Is this because he associated not only a fellow dog and the scent trail left before him but also his reward in that same area?

    After all, scent is what these dogs gather all their information from. There are too many "ifs" for my liking and therefore made me rule out all of the results. Cross checking like this seems like a very impractical way of approaching the situation...

    Lastly, can you imagine all the stress I would've saved myself if the 2nd and 3rd dogs never would've stepped foot in my duplex? Of course, I am still wondering where these bite like reactions are coming from, but I can't let this consume my life when I have no PHYSICAL evidence to show for it. I will remain vigilant, but as of now no more dogs and no more obsessing! I hope my situation has given some of you perspective of K9s. They are a great tool to pinpoint a certain area to be looking at, but I stand firm in that you must have actual evidence. I will keep you guys updated with my "bites" and my findings.

  2. mp7ski

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 3 2017 2:38:34
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    I'm no expert but it's pretty obvious where your "bites" are coming from. The carpet beetle larvae she'd skins... from spending two months on this site, I understand that carpet beetle larvae shed skins are one of the most common things that cause skin irritations that can get confused with bed bug bites. Add in the fact that if you had bed bugs, your "bites" would have gradually got worse and more frequent over the amount of time you're talking about as the infestation grew, not dissappeared for periods of time and then show back up.

    I'm happy for you, wish that was my issue and not bed bugs. Sure, the carpet beetle/larvae issue may need addressed and that's a completely different topic, but at least youre not dealing with bed bugs.

    I am not an expert, any advice I give should be considered as amateur advice and not taken as fact. I mean well with all my posts and try to give back. If you plan on using any of my advice, I suggest doing research into said advice to make sure it is in your best interest.
    Study on Thermal Death Points(pages 18-29 of pdf) : http://www.propanecouncil.org/uploadedFiles/Council/Research_and_Development/REP_12221%20Efficacy%20of%20Heat%20on%20Bed%20Bugs.pdf
    Study on Cimexa: http://www.pctonline.com/article/pct0814-silica-gel-research-bed-bugs/
  3. Poiqm

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 3 2017 5:15:40
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    He was correct to reward the dog for alerting. A fully trained dog is trained to alert on a specific scent. Dogs that are not fully trained or make false alerts wouldn't be working in the field. Think of drug sniffing dogs that alert on drugs hidden in the door of a vehicle, the handler doesn't wait 2 hours until the panels are removed to reward the dog. Why the dogs alerted on that spot on the bed when it's very possibly the carpet beetles causing issues? Who knows, maybe you have bed bugs that wander in from neighboring apartments. Or had a bed bug in the past. Or they have been improperly trained and alert on the scent of their handler. Either way, they found the scent they were trained to alert on and alerted. Reward deserved.

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  4. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 3 2017 9:12:47
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    Hi,

    With regards dogs its important to read these links below:

    http://bedbugger.com/2010/03/10/bed-bug-dogs-what-you-need-to-know/

    http://www.bedbugbeware.com/confirmingBBsignsfinal.pdf

    I have seen good dogs and handlers, I have seen bad dogs and handlers. It is technically possible but just as running 100m in 9.6 seconds is technically possible not everyone can achieve it.

    I have found that those who do a good job are happy to show and discuss what they do in terms of detection and confirmation and often their understanding and empathy shows through. They are not usually badge wearers and know that some accreditation's / endorsements are not worth buying into.

    I know the Bed Bug Foundation is working on a new K9 code for the EU but I am no longer engage in that process because I no longer work in the UK with K9 teams. The fact is we had both the first UK team but also retired the first UK team because even a two dog team was not as efficient as my screening team. The K9's could do 150 - 200 rooms a day while a two person team would cover 300. Again its an issue of scale because when you are checking 6,500 rooms on 27 sites for a university once a year those extra 100 - 150 rooms all add up, in fact it we had to buy a paper folding machine to avoid RSI when folding that many information sheets. Those projects are now done via Passive Monitoring because the cost of human of QA screening is lower than bringing a K9 team in.

    I also wanted to say that the timing of the reward is not the issue and at least it is play / affection based. Food reward is not a sensible idea but when done properly the dog detects because it wants the attention and affection of the handler and a false positive would naturally put the handler in a less affectionate mood towards the dog. It really is a synergistic and emotional bond when done well which is what you also hear from handlers of other working dogs in fields such as personal security and police scent detection. In fact I am reminded when writing this that in 2004 before the concept of using dogs for bed bugs was around I knew a law enforcement dog trainer socially and the traits I admired in him as a person are the qualities I look for in a K9 team.

    Hope that helps.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

    I am happy to answer questions in public but will not reply to message sent directly or via my company / social media. I am here to help everyone and not just one case at a time.

    In accordance with the AUP and FTC I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bed bug infestations. I also have a professional relationship with PackTite in that they distribute my product under their own branding. I do not however receive any financial remuneration for any comments I make about pro
  5. BigDummy

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 3 2017 9:20:25
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    Poiqm - 4 hours ago  » 
    He was correct to reward the dog for alerting. A fully trained dog is trained to alert on a specific scent. Dogs that are not fully trained or make false alerts wouldn't be working in the field. Think of drug sniffing dogs that alert on drugs hidden in the door of a vehicle, the handler doesn't wait 2 hours until the panels are removed to reward the dog. Why the dogs alerted on that spot on the bed when it's very possibly the carpet beetles causing issues? Who knows, maybe you have bed bugs that wander in from neighboring apartments. Or had a bed bug in the past. Or they have been improperly trained and alert on the scent of their handler. Either way, they found the scent they were trained to alert on and alerted. Reward deserved.

    If you've never been part of a search you shouldn't be commenting as if you have.

  6. Livingagain

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 3 2017 10:46:28
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    I've had dogs out to my house 3x (years apart), car and my husband's work. I've been skeptical of them each time-- epecially this last time 3 months ago. But with hindsight, I now see that the dogs were correct each time. That's a pretty good record for me, personally, and it was 3 different k9 companies.

    My last time the dog didn't alert and I was so sure I had something that I asked the handler to go back on my bedroom again. She said she didn't like to do that because it leads the dog. But I'm her customer so she did it anyway. But here I am 3 months later and I'm quite sure the dog was right. So, I know that dogs can be wrong, but my track record impresses me.

    I'm thinking that the dog may have been confused because it kept being brought back to a place it already cleared, maybe it felt some pressure from that, or wanted to please the humans. But the dog possibly gave you the right answer 3 x.

    The handler may need to work on training because of the last incident, but maybe it was just because of the circumstances. Maybe there's a reason the 2nd dog isn't the one usually brought in. IDK, just some thoughts.

  7. stressed96

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 3 2017 11:24:39
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    I really appreciate you guys chiming in on this!

    mp7ski,
    thank you for your nice comment and yes, I should probably look into carpet beetles being the cause of these reactions.

    David, I will make sure to read those articles that you mentioned.
    I completely agree that there are good and bad teams, like in any occupation. I always take what you say into consideration because of your level of expertise.

    Poiqm,
    i live in a full sized house split into two (duplex) with only one guy on the other side of me. I'm confident he doesn't have bed bugs because I'm quite open with him about my anxiety with this and he has checked his main living areas with me. I do agree with you that maybe I was wrong ( I am no expert) on saying that he shouldn't immediately reward the dogs. It makes sense that awarding after taking the time to visually confirm might confuse the dog. Much like scolding a dog for peeing inside hours after the deed was done, the dog has no idea why you are doing this. So I thank you for making me consider that! Either way, there is no "correct" time to award in my opinion. You either take the time to confirm to make sure it wasn't a false positive, or you immediately reward with the chance of it being wrong.

    Barelyliving,
    I can definitely see your point in that the dog might have felt pressured coming back to the same area in such a short time. Perhaps that is why it alerted the second time the handler brought it in. It would make total sense, being that they are wanting to please handler.

    I guess my whole point in posting my story is, when you have two different results from K9s, obviously one is correct and one is incorrect. When they did not alert, it was such a great relief and I trusted it full heartedly. When they did alert, I was immediately skeptical due to lack of evidence. I guess we are going to believe what we want to believe in the end. Maybe I'm completely wrong and I do in fact have bed bugs that aren't leaving evidence.

    I just want people to know that just because you have a K9 alert does not mean you have bugs. I would've immediately spent money that I needed (broke college student) simply because of my trust in the dogs. I was distraught at the thought that all of my hours searching were for no reason. But when I began to think rationally and was calmed down by PCO, I immediately started feeling better about the situation and am now open to other causes to my skin reactions.

  8. stressed96

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 3 2017 11:31:27
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    I'd like to add that the only thing that was different in my room when they came the third time, is that I had a 3 gallon fish tank on bedside table. They alerted on that same side. Maybe the fish food smell triggered it? WHO KNOWS

  9. Poiqm

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 3 2017 16:04:24
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    If you've never been part of a search you shouldn't be commenting as if you have.

    I'm a dog trainer with nose work experience.

  10. loubugs

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 3 2017 17:17:45
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    How would have the scenario played out if the handler didn't use dog 1 first, but dog 2 or dog 3?

    Professional entomologist/arachnologist. I consult on all matters dealing with insects and arachnids, including those of natural history and biology to pest management and forensic entomology investigations.
  11. stressed96

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 3 2017 17:59:21
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    loubugs,

    That is a good question and I have asked myself that several times. I will unfortunately never know! I'll remain vigilant in case dog 2 or 3 were right.


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