Career Watch: Bed Bug Bustin’ Beagle

Bed bugs are big business in New York. If the critters are attacking your home or workplace, you’ll end up breaking the bank just to search and destroy. Spot Certified, based in Red Hook, Brooklyn is your best option. They’re independent and assure quality inspection, compared to the dark side of the biz that is just out to take your money, not solve the problem. So the next time you see a TV ad for a local inspector or exterminator, get a sense of the process courtesy of Spot Certifed. Ask for Joey. He’ll come through with good old Spot! (Special thanks to Ishlab Studio for letting Spot sniff out their space).

Joey: Spot was gonna be put down, and now I got a pretty good friend. We actually purchased Spot trained from a company called Pepe Dogs. There are three companies, three dog trainers in the United States that make them and Pepe is hands down the best trainer. He’s a retired police officer/DEA agent that trains drug dogs. They take live bed bugs, put them in little jars, and then we hide them somewhere in the couch. We let them sit a minute or two. The scent stays in the jar. But if you have a bed bug problem in your house and you see the bed bug, you don’t need a dog, you need an exterminator. The dog is called in at the very beginning stages, when someone has a couple of bite marks on them, you see maybe a shell or something but you don’t know where and it’s a big surface area.

When you hear a building is 40,000 square feet, we have to walk every foot of that. It’s easier when you do dorm rooms, because you’re just going in and out. So the repetition keeps the dog focused. The smaller the space the easier to pick up on the scent, and usually dorm rooms are concrete so the scent will stay isolated where it won’t go through the walls. So if you find a scent in that room, it’s in that room.

The best type of a working dog is obviously the smallest dog. You gotta travel, a lot of times we fly around, and it’s probably better to have a lighter dog. Twenty pounds and under gets them underneath your seat on an airplane. She’s right on that mark. High protein food is what we give them so that they can work a little bit better. The feeding is contingent on how much work you’re going to do for the day. So if you know you have a lot of square footage to cover, then you’re only going to give her one or two pieces. If you know you don’t, then you can be a little more generous with the portions. The more training you do on your dog, the better that dog is going to be. If there’s not an alert, maybe every 30 minutes or so, I take a couple of jars out to feed her just to keep her excited. If it’s a bad cleaning service, that’s a nightmare because you have to constantly pull the dog up off the floor because it gets distracted looking for food. That might take a good 30-45 minutes into the search before the dog realizes I’m not gonna get a chance to get any of that food, so let me just do my job.

The theory is if the dog knows, that you know that the bed bugs are there the dog is going to read on your behavior. So if you notice when we do the search, we keep our feet moving because the dog is on the floor and can see our feet, it can’t see our body. So if we keep moving our feet the dog keeps smelling. If we stop, the dog thinks that we know that there’s something there.

The argument made by the small business owner like us is that we don’t have an extermination business. We own the dog, our overhead is very easy, if somebody calls us we give them our rate, and they say it’s a little high for them, maybe we can work with you. I’ve seen a commercial every 15 minutes for Roscoe, I dunno how much airtime is, but I’m sure it’s not cheap. I was driving behind a car a few weeks ago, I saw that it was car #47. I can’t afford two, never mind 47. So whenever you see that the numbers are that high–I know what workers compensation is for two of us–I know what disability is, I know what costs are just for a small business. I can only imagine what they are for a large business, especially in New York. You have a car, you have an E-Z pass, you have parking tickets, you have the same stuff that we have just on a larger scale, so what’s the integrity of that dog or that business owner when they come in the room? I think they’re more induced to say that you do have a problem than you don’t have a problem.

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