A Sudbury exterminating company has brought in an additional worker to help them detect bed bugs.
He’s a furry, four-legged bed-bug tracker — a canine named "Scooby."
Scooby is a sniffer dog for Orkin Canada in Toronto, and was called on by Sudbury branch manager Andy Briere to come poke his nose around an apartment complex in the city that had experienced bed-bug infestations.
While inspecting an apartment, Scooby's highly trained sense of smell hones in on the strawberry-scented pheromones the pests give off.
"Scooby’s going to be able to sometimes detect [the bed bugs] from the front door," Burnell said.
"After we bring him in, he’ll be able to pinpoint the different areas, such as the living room, the nightstand. Anywhere there’s a large amount of activity, he’s going to find them for me."
After Scooby locates the bugs, Orkin will send in a team of bed-bug technicians to exterminate them.
Dog’s 'personality' is key
When it comes to apartment buildings, the Sudbury District Health Unit said it’s up to tenants and landlords to report and take measures to treat bed bugs.
Unless the cases are reported to the health unit, the organization has no way of tracking the number of infestations, said Burgess Hawkins, the manager of health hazard investigation.
There were 45 confirmed bed-bug infestations in the city last year, according to Hawkins.
Scooby is a two-year-old mix-breed dog – but breed isn’t what makes a good sniffer dog, Burnell said.
"It doesn’t really matter the breed, it’s all in the character of the dog. If he’s willing to listen, has lots of energy, and wants to do the work, you can teach any dog to do this," he said.
The dog has to keep his senses sharp, and Burnell, who is also Scooby’s owner. He regularly hides a small vial of bed bugs at home to allow Scooby to exercise his skills.
"He doesn’t eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, he eats when he finds bed bugs, and that’s how you establish that he’s going to do his job properly," Burnell said.
A sniffer dog for northern Ontario?
Orkin Canada has six bed-bug sniffing dogs and canine handlers across the country, Briere said.
This is the third time Scooby has come from southern Ontario to the north. He also went to work sniffing around a summer camp property and a dorm building.
Getting a bed-bug detecting dog for the region is something Orkin is considering.
"The more often that we bring [Scooby] up, the more it indicates a need for our own [dog] in northern Ontario," Briere said. "I think there’s a need for it in the near future."
Currently the bed-bug team with the Sudbury branch of Orkin is all human. Orkin Sudbury employs a four-man team of bed-bug technicians, a crew Briere said is called on a few times every week to do bed bug work in town.