What to look for when choosing a Scent Detection K9 Team
It’s called a K9 team because both parts of the team, the dog and the handler, are important components of the team, and the team wont be effective unless both the dog and the handler are trained, motivated, and working properly.
Here are some quick tips to know you’ve chosen the right K9 team to work with, or maybe the wrong one….
– Make sure they are certified! Being certified by the dogs trainer isn’t enough. There are three independent organizations that certify bed bug scent detection teams: NESDCA, WDDO, and IBBMA. Make sure the K9 team you’re working with is a member of and certified by at least one of them. Remember that being certified by these organizations does not mean they are the best team, or even a great team. It simply means they have demonstrated to the organization certifying them, according to standards created by the organization, that they, on a specific date, demonstrated they can meet the minimum qualifications that any dog team working in the business should be able to meet, as described by that certifying organization. Check to verify they are certified! There are teams out there saying they are certified and they really aren’t, so do your homework. The links above to each of the certifying organizations provide a list of teams they have certified. Make sure your team is on that list, don’t just take their word for it.
– They should train with a professional trainer every month. Your dog team doesn’t have to train every day, but they should train weekly, they should train with a pro monthly, and they should keep training records.
– Make sure the dog works independent of the handler. The leash should be loose, and the dog should be working the room without looking for feedback or confirmation from the handler. If if looks like the handler is steering the dog with the leash, you’re working with the wrong K9 team.
– Make sure the dog handler or other pest inspector visually verifies the dog alerts before any recommendations for treatment are made. Tell your K9 handler, “Show me the bugs!!” This is critically important. If the handler is not able to visually verify the alert, it doesn’t mean the dog was wrong or that it was a false alert, it means bed bugs are extraordinarily difficult to find sometimes, which is why we use dogs. If the alert is not verified, the handler should recommend continued monitoring. Either more dog inspections, or some kind of passive monitoring device, until the dog stops alerting or until a bug is found. This is the best way to respond to an unverified dog alert, and is also the recommendation of the NMPA best practices. Remember, “SHOW ME THE BUGS!!”
If you have any questions about selecting the right K9 team to work with, or have any suggestions that should be on this list, let me know!