Pets Hunters

Bedbug sniffer dogs employed by NY hotels

In a prominent New York hotel last month, a uniformed man strode purposefully through the corridors, a beagle mongrel trotting at his side.

“We look like cops,” says Carl Massicott with a laugh.

Massicott is in fact an exterminator; his highly trained dog sniffs out bedbugs – the pestilence whose virulent return has been plaguing hotels across the US in recent years.

Massicott runs Advanced K9 Detectives, a specialist extermination company that uses dogs to sniff out pests. News of an infestation can ruin a business predicated on giving punters a good night’s sleep; it helps that Massicott dogs appear innocuous. Massicott says he's heard of dogs being used to sniff out termites in the past, and thought to apply the skills of his first black-lab mix, Jada, to sniff out bedbugs when there was an epidemic in 2002.

He’s since trained a small army of mutts, all adopted from dogs' homes. There’s only one requirement: “They’ve got to like to hunt,” he says.

Each young dog is trained for an average of 18 months. Initially they are introduced to the pest’s scent and rewarded with a treat each time they smell the bugs; the process culminates in the dog seeking out that scent on its own.

Each dog is capable of covering 150 hotel bedrooms per day.

Source: Times Online

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