The Penelope 60 Apartments along S. Merrifield Ave. in Mishawaka is handling a pesky problem.
On June 3, a resident found bed bugs in his unit and reported it to management. AHEPA National Housing, which manages the building, hired an extermination company to spray the problem unit and nearby hallway. That however wasn’t enough as additional tenants came forward with similar complaints.
In the wake of those complaints and local media reports, AHEPA National Housing turned to an extermination company that uses dogs, not humans to sniff-out the bugs. Why? Well canines are not only quicker, but much more accurate than their human counterparts.
"The benefit to a dog is we can cover a whole area a lot faster and with less manpower. If I search 50 rooms alone, it will take a week or two. Where with dogs I can do it in under two or three hours,” Mike Sapp, with Battle Creek Mich. based Bed Bug Investigations said.
Sapp and his co-workers spend three months rigorously training a dog before it’s certified by the International Association of Canine Pest Inspectors. Once accredited, the toy reward canines work five days a week inspecting apartments, private home, colleges, hospitals and business offices for bed bugs.
"We train the dogs to specifically work through the seams, cracks and crevasses of furniture; anything that the dog can sniff where the bug might hide,” Sapp added.
After all, a Florida State University study found a dog's sense of smell is 10,000 times that of a human being. Using the analogy of scent to vision, if you were to stand at the foot of the Golden Dome on the Notre Dame Campus and could see a quarter of a mile away, a dog could spot the Seattle Space Needle, and see it well.
"A person has a 30 percent chance of finding a bug while our dogs are 90-to-95 percent accurate. Dogs walk into a kitchen with beef stew on the stove and they have the ability to separate all the odors that go into beef stew. So they smell peas, carrots, corn, meat and potatoes,” Sapp explained.
That convincing science led AHEPA National Housing to hire Bed Bug Investigations to handle its most recent bed bug complaints.
"I wanted to make sure it hadn't gone any further. I scheduled the dogs to come out and inspect all of the units. I did it for the resident’s safety and so they can feel more at ease,” Tambra Stepp said.
During Wednesday morning’s inspection, a chocolate lab named BB King alerted its handler to only one problem area at Penelope 60 Apartments - a row of books in the building’s library.
“Books can be a problem. People read in bed before going to sleep and then place the novel on their nightstand. Bed bugs will then crawl and nestle in the book’s cover,” said Brian Kuemin with Griffin Pest Solutions, which subcontracts out to Bed Bug Investigations.
Using the findings of the canine’s canvass, Kuemin and his crew will spray a chemical solution across the library to kill off any possible critters.
"I can put everybody at ease with the report that the pest control company gave us. It doesn't mean we won't get them in the future because people bring them in from outside sources, but if we do get them, we'll get rid of them right away,” Stepp concluded.
Bed Bug Investigations charged $700 for their services at Penelope 60 Apartments. That figure however would be much cheaper for your average residential visit. Check your local yellow pages or web search engine for canine pest remediation companies near you.
And for a good reference on everything bed bugs, click here.