They’re everywhere! Dozens of retail stores in Manhattan have shut down. The most posh hotels have closed their doors. Island resort hosts are scratching their heads and more.

Bed Bugs Crawling on a Mattress

The bed bugs have invaded. Once the plague of slum neighborhoods the bed bugs have moved uptown – wealth and riches mean nothing to these biting pests.

For the past few months the bed bugs have made headlines. We know what they look like, what they can do, how resilient they are and what they like to eat …blood!

Man’s best friend – the dog – is ready and willing to help us detect their presence and let us know when it is safe to curl up in bed for a night’s snooze.

The nose knows. Dogs have proven to be effective in detecting so many distinctive scents when properly trained. Who can forget the images of those brave search and rescue dogs sniffing through the remains of the World Trade Center, wading through the flooded houses in New Orleans, searching through the rubble of homes in Haiti? The SAR dogs always come to mind when we think of detection dogs who are trained to find live people and human remains.

Tsunami my SAR K9

But dogs have been trained to detect many other signature scents. Many people who have flown into California are familiar with the Beagle Brigade. Long eared Snoopy dogs sniff out illegal food. Each time they find a piece of fruit or a summer sausage they are rewarded with a morsel of dog food for a job well done.

Cops use trailing dogs to pick up the scent of bad guys. Law enforcement dogs fearlessly enter buildings and sniff out the perpetrator. Law enforcement agencies and our military use dogs to detect narcotics and explosives.

Military Working Dog searching for explosives in Iraq

It has been noted that some dogs have a propensity for detecting illnesses – diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, anxiety. It is not totally clear how they are doing it but laboratory studies prove that they are.

Environmental specialists have enlisted dogs to help them detect the presence of rare and threatened species of wild animals and plants. For centuries dogs have been used to find truffles, the elusive and expensive culinary delight.

Recognizing their abilities, exterminators have utilized dogs to detect termite infestations. And now bed bugs.

I spoke with my friend Andy Hanellin the other day. Andy is a dog trainer from North Carolina who produces many types of detection dogs – law enforcement K9s for narcotics, man trailing, and explosives, SAR dogs, service dogs and now, due to the demand, bed bug detection dogs.

A Bed Bug Detection dog at work

It takes about four months to train a dog to passively (a sit and stare at the source) indicate the presence of live bed bugs. Pretty tricky stuff. The dog must ignore the presence of dead bed bugs, any of their sheddings or feces. Andy’s advice – “Detection dogs of any type are only as good as their trainer and handler…carefully choose a reputable company.”

Dogs rock!

Semper Fido,