Herbie Yan has worked as a canine handler with M&M Pest Control (MMPC) in Queens, N.Y., for nearly a decade. After a 15-year career with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), Yan got into dog handling with MMPC, he says, for the “love of getting to work with a canine as a profession.”
After working for MMPC part-time as a way to earn extra money for his growing family, he soon quit his USPS position and transitioned to full-time with MMPC because he realized how much he loved his job. “I see growth and a future with the pest control industry,” he says. “From getting to work with a dog, to traveling to different parts of the tri-state area and meeting clients … it’s really the best job. I knew that, with the special bond you share with a working dog, I would be in it for the long haul.”
Yan is pictured on the cover of the April 2021 issue with his first and current canine partner, Dexter. “When I was hired, Dexter was in need of a partner,” Yan recalls. “When I saw his energy, his affection, and his playfulness, I knew we would be a great match.”
Yan and Dexter were certified by the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association on the first try, and have been a solid team since. But while Dexter is like a family member for Yan, his wife and three children during non-working hours, Yan is keenly aware Dexter is a co-worker.
“I know Dexter is not, and should not be treated as, a regular pet,” he affirms. “Dexter is first and foremost my partner, and we are trained professionals in scent detection. Given the nature of our work, I always make sure Dexter is fit and healthy so we can be at the top of our game.
“Based on my experience, you have to know for sure that this career is suitable for a new handler,” Yan adds. “Trust is very important. As a handler, you will develop a special bond with a canine that is hard to let go. This is a career that is long-term.”
Yan says he feels lucky to have bonded with other MMPC handlers, as well. “We meet and train together regularly. We get together sometimes just talk about our previous jobs or have a few laughs. Management recognizes our hard work, and sponsors group dinners regularly,” he says.
Dexter is 9 years old. Yan expects to provide a good retirement for him by continuing to have him live with his family, and enjoy their big backyard. MMPC will continue to play a role, however, by financially supporting Dexter with what amounts to a retirement pension. “He will be happy for the rest of his life,” Yan promises.