Dogs sniffing out bed bugs

Canines can locate presence of pests before problem multiplies

Staff photo by Adam Urquhart Eisen, a German shepherd, waits on the floor next to concrete blocks after detecting bed bugs in the area. Using real insects, Deb Ash has trained Eisen to sniff out the odor of these tiny bugs.

WILTON – Of the many things dogs are capable of, bed bug detection is not necessarily the first that comes to mind, but one Wilton woman offers this service with her German shepherd, Eisen.

Deb Ash, a certified K-9 handler, trained with Eisen Friday before heading out to a camp to investigate it for bed bugs.

By using the K-9 detection service, those who believe bed bugs may be present can learn if they need an exterminator.

“We just go in and satisfy that doubt that you might have bed bugs,” Ash said.

Eisen is 6 years old and accompanies Ash on jobs. The dog will investigate camps, homes, rental units, hotels and such, all in the effort to sniff out bed bugs.

While Eisen investigates, checking every crack and crevice, Ash keeps a close eye on him, making sure he doesn’t miss an area.

In training, she teaches the dog to search for bed bugs by using live insects stored in glass vials. She’s been doing scent detection work for 20 years now, but began the bed bugs operation within the last few years. She said she got involved with it through search and rescue teams.

Once Eisen has located bed bugs, the dog been trained to sit next to the area in which they are.

“It’s all the same,” Ash said. “What you’re asking the dog to do is just find a different odor. The process itself is the same, whether it’s drugs, or explosives, or bed bugs, or live people who are lost in the woods. What changes is the environment you’re asking the dog to work in and the way in which the dog comes back and tells you about it. But for all those things, you have to use the dog’s hunt drive.”

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.