Katlyn, a first year student in a well-known University just moved into her dorm. After residing in her dorm for two weeks, she woke with bites all over her body. She immediately searched for signs of bed bugs and then notified management of a bed bug problem in her room.
The management commented they remembered a bed bug problem in four rooms including hers during the previous semester but “they took care of it”. Since those rooms had treatment the likelihood is that, she must have brought them in. Knowing darn well her parents’ home or any of her belongings did not have bed bugs, and there were bed bug fecal stains all over the electrical outlet and baseboard, she was stunned at the accusation.
They immediately sent in bed bug scent detection dogs. The team searched the whole dorm and the dog alerted.
When Katlyn spoke to the University Management, they told her that the dog did alert on a few dead bugs they found. (Holding onto their claim that she brought them in)
From what she read in our literature, this all seemed strange to her. Confused, she called to talk to us regarding how and on what dogs alert. We explained that these dogs are trained only on “live scents of bed bugs and not dead ones”.
We explained it this way:
Olfactory acuity is defined as the ability to identify and discriminate different odors. And the odor of dead bed bugs is different than the odor of live bedbugs. The odor of a cockroach is different than the odor of a bedbug. And the dogs can distinguish between all of these different odors, including those of other insects – like carpet beetles, for instance. And a canine’s olfactory acuity is far more superior to that of a human’s. Are they 100%, no! But in the high 90%, yes. Which is very different from human detection abilities.
Using scent detection dogs that find missing people (as an example) i.e. Search and Rescue dogs taught to locate people who are missing or lost, taught to seek out injured soldiers and lead the handler to the location of their find. One problem though, if the person had died these dogs were not trained on the scent of a dead body. This is when these dogs trained in dual disciplines for both live and dead (cadavers).
There is no reason to train a bed bug dog for dual purposes. Why?: Because in post-treatment inspections, for instance, where our dogs are being tasked to confirm the success of a bed bug treatment, we want our certified dogs to alert on live bed bugs only and not on dead ones.
The bed bug dog plays a critical role in the early discovery, post treatment and prevention of major infestations. Being that they can detect bed bugs in minute amounts, finding them in the “earliest stages or at introduction” will help pest control companies to eliminate them from the environment before an infestation can grow and spread. Just so you understand, it is hard to eliminate advanced and established infestations.
If bed bugs were missed after a treatment, these dogs can “check” and alert the treatment professional to do another treatment. It is when the dog does not alert that the treatment professional can be surer that they got them all. In other words, they “proof” the work of the treatment.
They do regular and at random inspections in multi-unit properties to find bed bugs before they can reach infestation sizes and spread to adjoining units. Therefore, you might say they are great at “prevention” for finding them before a structural problem can occur.
They are also great for when a person should return from a place suspected of bed bugs, such as a hotel during a business or vacation trip. They can find bedbugs before they have the opportunity to reproduce into an infestation.
In this particular case, I do not believe the detection dog alerted on dead bugs. I believe that they found bed bugs; told management the extent of the infestation and management did not want to look like they did not do their job correct or take the blame.
In my opinion, it was after treatment that the dogs should have come in and before the students move into the dorms.
So in essence, we assume the management lied to her in order take themselves off the “responsible for not checking” hook. Hence, not found “guilty” to place the blame back on her. Commonly, this happens in multi-unit properties. It would not make any sense to me because they have to pay for the treatment anyway but maybe they were afraid of write-ups in the news again.
If ever anyone tells you a bed bug scent detection dog alerts on dead cast skins, I would seriously question their credentials.
The importance of bed bug education grows with each day. I champion this young woman in her quest to find truth in a world of blame and deception. Let’s all face the facts that bed bugs are part of life as we know it and it will be important for all humans to know the facts pertaining to bed bugs whether they want to or not.Article By Denise Donovan
We don’t alert on dead bed bugs – only live ones!