PHOENIX - We know dogs can have some pretty amazing skills, but one dog has a skill that few other dogs can claim to have.
Meet Houston, a four-year-old Beagle that is part of a team of four dogs specifically trained to find bedbugs.
"It could have been drugs, bedbugs, bird retrieval," said Houston's handler, Connor Lee. "He got into this."
Helping eliminate any unwanted house guests, officials with Burns Pest Elimination say the dogs' acute sense of smell is almost five times more effective than the human eye.
"It’s easy to see bedbug adults, because they’re about as big as an apple seed, about the same color, but their larvae and their eggs are almost impossible to see," said Mike Boyle. "An eye inspection with a flashlight just won’t work. A K-9 can find any bug in this room, or all the stuff that a human can’t see."
Bedbugs are out in full force this time of year, according to reports.
"Tons and tons of bedbug calls, because everyone’s been traveling," said Boyle.
Boyle says recent holidays, like Labor Day and end-of-summer vacations, are some of their busiest times for calls.
"Company-wide, probably 10 to 12 a week, maybe 12 to 20 in a really busy week," said Boyle. "You’ll see welts on your skin, a lot of the time. Not always. You’ll actually see live bugs, occasionally, unfortunately, but the biggest indicator is little tiny blood spots on your sheets."
Houston Lee will check the whole house. Houston sits and points with his nose to indicate where the bedbugs are. Special heaters are then used to get rid of the bedbugs.
"We heat it up to about 130F for about six hours," said Boyle. "Everything dies. Nothing can survive."
"He doesn’t talk back. He’s very respectful most of the time," said Connor, referring to Houston's temperaments. "Outside of work, he’s a big cuddlebug. He likes to hang around with our other dogs."
What to do with bedbugs
Experts have the following advice for people with concerns about bedbugs.
- If you think you have bed bugs, or if you’ve been traveling, put your clothes in the dryer to kill off the bugs.
- Never put your suitcase on the bed, at hotels or in your home.
- Never keep a suitcase in your bedroom, as bedbugs need to feed off humans.
- Call experts.