Dogs Sniffing Out Bed Bugs

By E.B. Solomont, MNN

Bedbugs, the scourge of urban dwellers, have a new, furry enemy: dogs.

Amid a resurgence of the nocturnal parasites, bedbug-sniffing dogs can inspect an apartment, home or office in minutes. “Adorable yet stunningly accurate,” reports the New York Times, the dogs are “the new and furry front line in an escalating and confounding domestic war.”

The Times profiles Cruiser, a bedbug-sniffing puggle and his handler, Jeremy Ecker, who started The Bed Bug Inspectors about six months ago.

Bedbugs, once killed by pesticides like DDT that are now banned in the United States, are back with a vengeance. In New York City, they are particularly onerous and extremely mobile; they can travel through apartment walls, pipes and wiring.

“Those bugs are everywhere,” said Gale A. Brewer, a New York City Council member who convinced the mayor’s office to convene a bedbug advisory board to address policy shortfalls.

Indeed, last year there were 11,000 bedbug complaints in the city, up from 537 six years earlier, according to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. On blogs like and, horror stories abound: a Manhattan woman who spent $9,500 on extermination or bedbugs taking over white-shoe law firms, hotels and hospitals.

Bedbugs have become an impediment in New York’s real estate market, as well. Lori Braverman, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, recently started advising would-be buyers of Manhattan apartments to inspect apartments for bedbugs. “It’s the deep, dark secret of co-ops and condos,” she said.

Well-trained dogs are about 96 percent accurate. In this case, Cruiser was trained at J&K Canine Academy in High Springs, Fla., where rescue dogs learn to detect not only bedbugs, but termites, bombs and some cancers. For the handlers, it requires a big commitment: keep bedbugs and, from time to time, let the bugs bite you in order to feed. (Bedbugs survive on human blood and only need to eat once a month.)

On a recent morning, Ecker and his colleague Oscar Rincon traveled to Brooklyn to inspect a home. The mother had found a dead bedbug floating in her child’s bath the night before; the house next door had a bedbug problem.

Set loose in the house, Cruiser stopped in the child’s room and began pawing the mattress. “That’s where my 2-and-a-half-year-old sleeps,” the mother said. Rincon noted the emotional stress of living with bedbugs. “We see people who literally haven’t slept for weeks. They think everything is a bedbug.”

So far, Rincon hasn’t taken a bug home himself. But, he said, “I never sit down.”

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Sheri P.
Sheri P.4 years ago

EWWWW! Handlers have to keep bedbugs and let the bugs bite them in order to feed? That is indeed a BIG commitment!
I'm not sure I could make a commitment like that...

Véronique Lajoinie
veronique L.4 years ago

Thank you!

Melody Aragorn
Melody Aragorn5 years ago

hmm... i had to say this...still i would say one could use diatomaceous earth (the pet and human safe ones)sprinkled around the areas and then in a while vaccum..Result.... no bugs... no overworked little doggies.. rather one could call them (little angels) home and feed them... with loads of love and hugs rather than make them sniff out bugs from the home..

Melody Aragorn
Melody Aragorn5 years ago

thanks for this article...Nature has a way to balance itself.. i pray these dogs dont get infected and are not over worked neither should they fall sick.. and in return they get loads of love and hugs...

David M.
Eva Daniher5 years ago


Bon L.
Bon L.5 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Anne Marie S.
Past Member 5 years ago

thanks for this article

Patrick Whyte
Patrick Whyte5 years ago

good to know

Heidi R.
Past Member 5 years ago

Dogs are so awesome.

Brie B.
Brie B.5 years ago

On Tuesday, my apartment building will have a Bedbug sniffing dog by... Gulp!