We were in the news again! Julie Washington from the Plain Dealer gets into it with Dan, Nips, and Liz. Full article below.
Euclid service uses dog’s nose to sniff out bedbugs
By Julie Washington, The Plain Dealer
on March 20, 2013 at 6:30 PM, updated March 22, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Dan Hernandez is a nice guy, but he gave me a serious case of the creeps.
We were sitting in his mom’s Euclid home talking about bedbugs. The house is not infested, so I didn’t have to worry on that score. What made my skin crawl was his revelation that he keeps a colony of live bedbugs at his home.
He needs them to keep his dog, Nips, who is trained to detect live bedbugs by scent, in practice. Hernandez, 23, assured me that he keeps the bedbugs — a pest that’s hard to detect and eradicate — inside multiple vials and mini-aquariums.
Feeling a sickly fascination, I asked two things: How did he feed them? And when does he tell potential girlfriends about the bedbugs in the closet?
Hernandez confessed that he makes the ultimate sacrifice, letting the bloodsuckers suck his blood through a tiny mesh screen.
He blushed over the girlfriend question. “I wait a little bit before I bring that up,” he said. Second date? Third date? “A little bit longer,” he said.
Listen up, potential girlfriends. Hernandez’s business, Nip It Canine Bed Bug Detection Service, is going so well that you’ll just have to take Dan, the dog and the bedbugs as a package deal.
The company, co-founded by his mom, Liz, uses Nips the detection dog, a 5-year-old Jack Russell terrier/beagle mix, to inspect homes, multifamily apartment buildings, hospitals, office buildings and other kinds of spaces for bedbugs. She can pinpoint an area that needs treatment, eliminating the need for treating the whole house, the Hernandezes said.
Nip It charges $200 for one hour; Nips can inspect about 30,000 square feet of space in that time. If bedbugs are there, the homeowner must contact an extermination company to take care of the problem; Nip It doesn’t handle that part of the job.
I know that each of God’s creatures has a purpose in life, but it’s hard to see why the Earth needs bedbugs.
They are reddish flat insects about the size of an apple seed, and they belong to a category of blood-sucking external parasites similar to head lice. They feed on human blood but do not transmit disease, according to a joint paper released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Bites can lead to secondary skin infections, anxiety and insomnia.
“In recent years, public health agencies across the country have been overwhelmed by complaints about bedbugs,” the paper stated. Experts think the resurgence is tied to bedbugs that are resistant to pesticides; greater international travel; and lack of knowledge because their populations dropped during the middle of the last century.
Bedbugs hide in the seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, behind wallpaper and under objects around a bed. They can travel more than 100 feet in one night, but tend to live within eight feet of where humans sleep, the paper said.
If you think your home is infested, look for rust-colored spots on your mattress and bedding caused by their excrement, or exoskeletons left behind after molting.
“They’re hitchhikers, that’s the problem,” said Liz Hernandez. “Anywhere people come and go, you may have them.”
Liz first learned about the rising problem with bedbugs through her work in nonprofit housing. Her buildings were getting infestations, and she heard about the idea of using dogs to find bedbugs.
“At first I thought it was a wild and crazy idea,” she said. Dan already owned an American bulldog and German shepherd, and was interested in dog training. It seemed like a perfect business venture for them.
The Hernandezes contacted the J&K Canine Academy Inc. in High Springs, Fla., which trains rescue dogs in various kinds of scent detection. Nip It launched in 2011. Now Nips and Dan train seven days a week and travel through Ohio and Pennsylvania for their work. “She loves what she does,” Liz said of Nips.
The company is doing so well that Liz and Dan plan to bring his older brother, Juan, in as part of a second dog-handler team. There are other dog detection companies operating in Ohio, such as Buckeye Bed Bug Detection in Columbus and Bed Bug Inspection Dog in Middleburg Heights.
It was time to meet Nips and watch her work. Dan let her out of her carrier, and she immediately bounded over to give me a friendly lick. She had already inspected a firehouse and an emergency room earlier that day, but she still had energy to spare.
Dan had set up a demonstration test in the living room so I could see Nips do her thing. Holding her leash, he guided her over to the living room sofas, keeping her focused on sniffing every part of the furniture. Nips worked around the outside of the sofas, then jumped onto the seats to get her nose down in the cracks.
She scratched at a spot, and Dan showed the vial of bedbugs he had hidden there. In just a few minutes, Nips had found both vials in the thick seat cushions. The vials had mesh lids so that the bedbugs’ odor, but no insects, escaped from the containers.
A reward of snacks and praise followed.
Nips can inspect a three-bedroom house in 15 minutes, depending on the amount of clutter, he said. But he won’t allow her to go into homes or businesses if chemicals have been used within 30 days because they could damage her sense of smell.
What’s the worst situation that he and Nips have been in? “When you see them on the ceiling. Basically, when you don’t need a dog” to tell you bedbugs are there, Dan said. He takes precautions to ensure no hitchhikers go home with him.
The worst thing you can do is wait until the problem is that bad, the Hernandezes said. Because different people react differently to bedbug bites — and some people must be bitten repeatedly before they see skin irritation — some homeowners wait so long that that a small problem spreads, she said.
Some people associate bedbugs with filth, but that isn’t true. As more people deal with infestations or have read about it or experienced it, the veil of secrecy and shame is lifting.
“Everybody finds it fascinating to talk about bedbugs,” Liz said. “It’s amazing to me how often it comes up.”