ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — It's a disturbing reality — the bed bug business is thriving. After ten years of hard work, Alaska's first bed bug sniffing dog, Rudolph, is retiring, and now it's time for her to pass the torch.
"We're proud of Rudolph," said Randy Beuter, owner of Eagle Pest Control and Tree Service. "She pioneered the bed bug industry in the state. She was the very first and she won a national championship in Maryland. She set the course record at J&K Academy running four rooms in 3 minutes and 17 seconds with 100 percent accuracy."
Beuter rescued Rudolph from a shelter in Florida and brought her on as part of the pest control team. Now, she's passing her legacy down to two dogs, Bella and Rudolph the Second.
Bed bugs are a nuisance, and getting rid of them is no easy task. Finding them could take hours for pest control inspectors, but just minutes for pocket beagles like Rudolph, Rudolph the Second, and Bella. They became part of the Eagle Pest Control team after several months of training and certification from the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association.
"Bed bugs are very difficult to detect. They tend to hide." Beuter said. "Anybody can find bed bugs if there's been a large infestation. If you've got bugs crawling all over the bed, there's no trick. It's when you come to a situation where you just started getting bit, but you can't find any evidence."
When training, they use hides — little vials containing bed bugs with mesh over the top. The vials are hidden, and the dog is trained to detect their scent and alert the handler when they find them. They're then rewarded with food.
"So, it's not a snack. Their actual food consumption for the day is what they're rewarded with," said trainer Tony Kellog. "So if I go to a home and they have no bugs, the dogs still have to eat, so I monitor the amount of food for the entire day and ensure by the end of the night they receive all of their food for the day."
Beuter says he now has two dogs on the team because, unfortunately, business is booming.