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Old 11-21-2010, 02:41 AM   #1

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Sniffing out bedbugs

How Reliable Are Bedbug-Sniffing Dogs?

If you've been irritated by persistent small, itchy bites on the skin and are worried your home or apartment has been invaded by bedbugs, you might think twice before shelling out big bucks to bring in a bedbug-sniffing canine to find the source of the trouble.

Reports of pooches who have detected bedbugs where there are none are growing. In a recent feature in The New York Times, one woman said she paid $3,500 in detection and extermination fees for what a bedbug-sniffing dog indicated was a bedbug infestation only to find later the problem was rodent mites.

So should you skip hiring a bedbug-sniffing dog? Louis Sorkin, an entomologist with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, doesn't necessarily think so. "The dogs are a very good tool," he told AOL Health, "but it depends on their training and upkeep. If the trainer or handler doesn't understand bedbugs, he may have a problem."

Before you hire a company that offers bedbug-sniffing canines, you might want to ask how they train their dogs. Sorkin says well-trained animals will only have been given live bedbugs and viable eggs in the training process, not dead ones and not mixtures that might contain other types of pests.

"If you have other pests in your home and that dog has not been properly trained, he's going to home in on insects besides bedbugs," Sorkin says. It's also important for the dogs to have been trained in a real-life environment, like a home or office, where they learn to check out spaces high and low as well as to investigate different types of furniture.

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