City Calls In The Dogs
Thursday, November 17, 2011
The city has unleashed its newest tools in the battle against
bedbugs: Mickey and Nemo, beagles trained to sniff out the
Mickey, foreground, and Nemo have already
been put to work inspecting apartments for signs of bedbugs.
The dogs and their handlers will be deployed to apartments for
inspections when requests are made through the city's nonemergency
311 line. The Department of Housing Preservation & Development
could send out each dog and handler to perform about a dozen
inspections a day, though city officials cautioned that the two
teams won't be able to meet citywide demand.
On Monday, their first day on the job, the dog and handler teams
made nine visits that resulted in three landlords being hit with
"Within minutes of bringing the dog into the apartment, the dog
sat down and signaled that there were bedbugs," said Vito
Mustaciuolo, deputy commissioner of Housing Preservation &
Development. "That's incredible."
The cost of purchasing the dogs, training, kennel charges and
veterinary care is $69,000 for the first year, most of which was
covered by the City Council.
Nemo and Mickey will spend their nights in an Upper East Side
kennel, where they will receive frequent grooming. Visits to the
veterinarian are covered under a pet insurance plan and the two
even have their own uniforms and Housing Preservation &
The bedbug-detecting beagles are part of a coordinated,
multi-agency effort that began in the summer of 2010 in response to
an epidemic of bedbug infestations-from bedrooms to offices to
The city convened a special advisory group, created a website
specific to bedbug prevention and education, provided training to
Housing Preservation & Development officers and tightened
regulations for landlords.
"We've all seen the commercials of the beagles you could hire to
come to your house to get bedbugs out of your home," said City
Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "By bringing Mickey and Nemo on
board, we're sending a message that all New Yorkers, regardless of
their income, will get the best bedbug attention money can
New York follows city agencies in Seattle and Milwaukee in
purchasing bedbug-detecting dogs.
Because of wide-spread concern surrounding the proliferation of
bedbug-sniffing dogs and their effectiveness, the National Pest
Management Association and several certification agencies have
stepped up efforts to develop industry protocols on dog and handler
"Unfortunately, there is very little research that's been done
on bedbugs and even less on bedbug scent detection canine teams,
though we do know that these teams, when properly trained and
certified, can be very effective," said Missy Henriksen, vice
president of public affairs for the National Pest Management