Norman business employs hound to sniff out bedbugs
Two Norman residents have started a business based around their dog that sniffs out bedbugs.
Liberty Belle, a 2-year-old Beagle, is trained to sniff out bedbugs. Husband-and-wife team Christen and Glen Collymore adopted Liberty Belle from the J & K Canine Academy in High Springs, Fla.
The Collymores created their business, K9 Special Forces, in February. Although the company is young, the trio already have worked in five states.
“In looking for a business opportunity with little competition, growing demand, low overhead and low start up costs, all while providing an essential service — canine bedbug detection was an easy decision for us to make,” Glen Collymore said.
After getting the dog, the Collymores trained with her at J & K Canine Academy, where they also learned how to work with and handle Liberty Belle. After the training was done, the dog had to pass a National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association test in order to become certified.
Each dog is trained to detect one type of pest using scent. This allows dogs to find that specific pest to the best of their abilities, Christen Collymore said.
Liberty Belle earns her food for the day by finding bedbugs. Each time she successfully finds bedbugs, she is rewarded with food.
The Collymores said in a full day of work, Liberty Belle can clear 120 hotel rooms. The most rooms the dog has ever cleared in one day is 138.
“Talking about a 24-hour job — we did 10 movie theaters, and the only time you can get in there is between midnight and 6 in the morning,” Glen Collymore said.
However, if Liberty Belle is having a slow day, she must still work for her food.
On these occasions, the Collymores do “controlled hides.” This consists of hiding small vials of bedbugs around the house and having Liberty Belle find them, Christen Collymore said.
Once the dog has located the bedbugs, she will paw and scratch within six inches of the area to indicate where they are.
“If you were to pick the No. 1 dog to use, it would be a Beagle,” Christen Collymore said. She said Beagles are typically used for scent detection because their long ears funnel the scent to their noses.
“Liberty Belle does one thing and one thing only — and that’s BBs,” Christen Collymore said.
BB is the nickname the Collymores use when discussing bedbugs. They use this term so whenever they are searching hotels or movie theaters, they don’t jeopardize the business’ reputation.
The Collymores said restoring a customer’s peace of mind by confirming a treatment has been successful or finding small infestations before they spiral out of control is the most rewarding aspect of their job.
“Pest control operators in the past have looked for [bedbugs] in the traditional places, in the crevasses of the bed or wherever, ” Glen Collymore said. “They are only about 30-percent accurate.”
Liberty Belle saves time in hunting for bedbugs because Liberty Belle is trained to specifically smell the bedbugs and bedbug eggs, Glen Collymore said.
“We are providing about a 96-percent accuracy rate compared to their 30 percent,” Glen Collymore said.