When Maggie alerts, I try hard to find the source of the odor she’s alerting to, but it’s not always possible to find them right away. Bed bugs are very good at hiding and can be very difficult to find visually, which is why we use dogs.
When she alerts and I’m unable to confirm the alert by finding live bed bugs near the area of her alert, I usually recommend continued monitoring. I recommend continued canine inspections until the dog stops alerting or we find live bugs, but depending on the circumstances, sometimes I’ll also use active or passive monitoring devices. I do not recommend a treatment based on a dog alert alone.
Recently I had a customer surprised by that. When she asked me about it, I realized it was worth explaining detail on my website.
There is one reason and two examples I’ll provide to explain why:
Reason: The NPMA Best Practices for Bed Bugs section 10.8 requires dog alerts be confirmed before a recommendation for treatment is made. The following examples should demonstrate why.
Example 1: When a police dog trained to recognize the odor of narcotics alerts on a suspects vehicle, can the police arrest the suspect for possession of narcotics based on the dog alert? Of course not! They have to go to a judge to request a search warrant. With warrant in hand, they must search for and find the narcotics near where the dog indicated they would be.
Example 2: I inspected an apartment in Fremont a couple months ago where Maggie alerted in three places along a wall, but I could find no evidence of any bed bug activity. Not one drop of fecal. The customer wanted to treat really bad, but I cautioned them against that urge. “What’s the harm in waiting” I asked her? “Lets continue to monitor until we know more. Worst case scenario, there are bed bugs there. If they are there we will find them and then treat. Best case scenario, there are no bed bugs there: A couple of dog inspections is much cheaper than a heat treatment, and much less hassle for your residents.” They decided to wait. Soon after, we found a significant infestation on the other side of the shared wall where Maggie was alerting. Maggie was not wrong: She was alerting on odor that was coming through the electric outlets on the shared wall, but that doesn’t mean we should treat in there. I always recommend continued monitoring with canine inspections until we figure out what’s going on.