Iowa firm uses dog to sniff out bedbugs at hotels

Sunday, April 24, 2011

WATERLOO, Iowa- A Waterloo pest control business is hoping to sniff out bedbugs by a nose.

Aable Pest Control now has Charlie, a 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier, to help in the fight against bedbugs. The company spent $7,000 to buy Charlie from a dog training school in Kansas City, Mo., which usually trains dogs for police departments but in the past few years has trained them to detect bugs, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported.

Mike Price, who founded the company in 1981, said it was worth the investment as the bedbug problem continues to grow.

"We pretty much eliminated the bedbug population back in the '50s and '60s when we had more potent insecticides available," he said.

Price said Charlie helps make it easier to find bedbugs.

"If you lift the mattress and see bugs, of course you don't need a dog," he said.

He said the bugs sometimes bunch together like cockroaches but sometimes they don't.

"I found one on the head of a Phillips screwdriver, and I've found one on a clothes hanger," Price said. "They can hide just about everywhere."

Charlie is particularly helpful on bigger jobs, like inspecting hotels, said Price, who also runs Terminex franchises in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

"Let's say it's a 90-room hotel, we'll take a dog in a third of the rooms every month," he said. "You've got to turn over mattresses and box springs and turn night stands upside down to look in cracks and things. A dog can inspect a hotel room in probably five minutes."

Since Price got Charlie, the dog has only been on a few calls and Price cautions that "it's not 100 percent."

But using dogs to sniff out bedbugs is becoming more common across the country, he said.

"Dogs are becoming a big part of bedbug detection," Price said. "I had to wait three months on a waiting list to get the dog."