Man's best friend helps in war against bedbugs

Bedbugs are making a comeback as pest-control specialists say, in the last year alone, bedbug calls have increased as much as 800 percent in some areas of the Southwest.

Dog trainer Sonny Henegar is helping people in Arizona - and all over the country - win the war against the pests by training man's best friend to sniff them out.

"The dog is the best tool in the industry," said Henegar, who trained dogs for law enforcement for 25 years and is now K9 division manager at AZex Pest Solutions in Prescott.

"Dogs are 90 percent accurate in finding bedbugs when they actually exist," he said. "Human pest-control operators are about 30 percent accurate."

Not sure if you have bedbugs? Henegar's dogs can find them. If treatment's already been done, they'll make sure no bedbugs survived.

The best dogs for the job will do anything to play catch, Henegar says. "Intense ball drive is what we're looking for. Or intense drive to hunt and find and play."

Henegar uses that canine attribute in the training: In order to play with the ball, they've got to find the bugs and point them out with their snouts.

In training, he uses real, live bugs, which emit a different scent from dead ones. The dogs need to find those that are alive, especially if they're searching after treatment.

Henegar hides them inside little perforated containers that allow their scent to escape and he hides the containers around the training area. To catch the dogs off guard, Henegar will hide the bugs behind bed boards, paintings, even inside upholstery.

Heneger is only one of a handful of trainers that does this kind of work in the country.

Not only does he train his dogs AZex, but the dogs he's trained have been sent to pest-control companies in other cities all over the country.

"The demand for the dogs in the industry is going up," he said.


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