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Three years ago, I was present at a bed bug seminar in New York City when a very well-respected, national bed bug researcher called the field of bed bug K9 inspection “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
Three years later, it’s fair to say that those words still hold true. While we hold certain bed bug dogs in very high regard, we’ve seen even more of them come and go, for many reasons. Two primary reasons dogs can become bad or ugly are, 1) the company that owns the dog(s) aren’t maintaining that dog’s daily training, or, 2) the dog has been overworked.
When you make a decision to hire a dog to provide a bed bug inspection, the most important thing you need to know is: is that K9 currently certified, and if so, who certified it?
In our case, we carry the NESDCA certification (National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association), and their guidelines require that we re-certify our K9 team yearly. NESDCA’s canine guidelines not only match or exceed every requirement set forth by the National Pest Management Association, but it’s what the NPMA set their own guidelines by (in regard to bed bug dogs). NESDCA’s stringent guidelines ultimately validates the training that the K9 initially received (in our case, J&K Canine Academy). NESDCA also makes it very easy for the public to see which K9 inspection companies are using certified dogs (by referencing their website).
A K9’s certification eventually answers a lot of questions. If a company is overworking a dog, it will become harder for that dog to pass it’s yearly certification test. If a company is not maintaining daily training of a dog, same thing – it becomes much more likely that a dog will not pass its upcoming certification. Dogs that aren’t trained daily can typically become “false positive” dogs, dogs that falsely indicate to the presence of bed bugs, and which has (rightfully) become one of the public’s biggest concerns in regard to bed bug dogs.
It goes without saying that a dog’s certification should be a third-party organization, and not a master trainer (or handler) certifying their own K9’s. When a K9 shows up at your home or business, the K9 is the star of the show, and not the handler. As one of our customers once said, someone self-certifying their bed bug dog is “like giving yourself a law degree.” Handlers are important, but the ability of the K9 to detect bed bugs is the selling point.
When our customers ask for references, we immediately refer them to NESDCA, and to J&K Canine, because there’s no better references in the industry. When you hire a bug bug dog, first and foremost, check for its certification.