In a non-descript garage, an employee of Thermapro Solutions scans carefully for insects.
She’s on all fours with her nose to the ground.
She trained for a year to find the nasty creatures – and gets paid for her labours in treats, which suits her fine since she’s a Fox Terrier.
Thermapro Solutions is one of the companies turning to a burgeoning cottage industry – locating bed bugs using dogs.
“I thought it was a joke,” said trainer David Latimer, who flew up from Alabama to re-certify the dogs.
He started training canines about 10 years ago.
“When my wife found out I was going to be training dogs to sniff out bed bugs, I thought I’d need to find a new place to live,” he said.
Thermapro Solutions has a Beagle named Sunshine who does the dirty work and the company is currently training another dog, Bosco, to sniff out the pests.
The dogs are trained in a very similar way to police dogs who are taught to sniff out bombs or drugs.
While Thermapro Solutions president and dog trainer Don Prashker thinks the bugs emit a pheromone the dogs hone in on, Latimer said no one is entirely certain what the dogs actually smell.
An estimates two per cent of hotel rooms have bed bugs.
“You scan a 400-room hotel, chances are it’ll have eight rooms with bed bugs,” Prashker said.
The cost of training and acquiring one of these dogs usually exceeds $20,000.