Bed bug K9s could be key to ending pandemic


August 13, 2020



As I’ve written about before, I’ve long been fascinated by the ability of working K9s to sniff out not only drugs and explosives, but in our own industry, have great success aiding their handlers in inspections for termites, bed bugs, rodents and more. Our online series with regular contributor David Latimer has long extolled the virtues of dogs’ superior odor detection skills, and has shared with readers many tips on how to harness that for better inspections and monitoring.

In fact, it didn’t surprise me one bit to read a story on, contributed by the MLive Media Group,  about Lori and Jack Grigg. The couple, who own Paradise Dog Training in Fenton, Mich., have trained two of their bed bug detection dogs to detect coronavirus traces in human saliva. As the article explains:

[Lori Grigg] lines up a number of buckets (usually 10 to 15), each with a cotton ball soaked with saliva. A dog is then let free to sniff the buckets, and if there’s a cotton ball with coronavirus-infected saliva, she said the canine will sit down next to that bucket and wait for a treat.

“We usually do testing every day and right now they’ve been anywhere from 75 to 85% accurate in detecting the COVID-19,” Grigg said. “Most of the time they’re hitting the positive.”

The couple keeps bagged, donated, infected cotton balls in a freezer, using them regularly for training. They’ve been running two dogs, each with seven years experience detecting bed bugs, through the training daily.

At least two other, similar studies are going on in Pennsylvania and the U.K., although it seems only the Griggs’ dogs have pest control backgrounds.

Speaking of industry hounds, I also came across this article in which “The City” reports on two bed bug-inspecting beagles are heading for retirement next year. Both 10-year-old Nemo and 11-year-old Mickey work for New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

The reporter seemed to have broken the news to one of three handlers of the duo, David Trevino. (The dogs live in a kennel, but Trevino fostered them in the early quarantine days of the pandemic.) After his surprise, he admitted it might be the right thing to do. “Everybody got their limits, but you don’t want to push the dogs too much either.”

Whenever retirement day comes, Nemo and Mickey, we hope you get to enjoy it as a reward for all your hard work.

About the Author

Heather Gooch

Heather Gooch is the editor-in-chief for PMP magazine. She can be reached at or 330-321-9754.

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