Bedbugs, beware of dog | PostIndependent.com

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Bedbugs, beware of dog

Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS It took just a couple of minutes for Walter Penny and his dog, a 1-year-old Labrador, Whippet mix named Macaroni, to get warmed up.Seek. Seek. Seek, Penny said as he motioned to several small containers fixed to a spinning wheel.Following Pennys direction, Macaroni sniffed each of the containers one by one. When he found the one he wanted to, he sat.Where is it? Penny asked.Macaroni pointed to one of the blue-topped containers with his nose.Where is it? Penny asked again.Again, Macaroni pointed to the same container.Youre a super, Macaroni, wonder dog, arent you, Penny said as he rewarded his young dog with a treat.Over and over again, Penny would spin the wheel and Macaroni would seek out the one container that held what they were searching for. Bedbugs.Thats right, Macaroni and Penny are pest inspectors. Well, Macaroni is. Penny is his handler.Im the only one of my kind, Penny said.And they are pretty good at what they do. According to Penny, dogs like Macaroni who are trained in pest detection have a 90 percent accuracy rate, compared to only a 30-40 percent rate for human inspectors.Local pest inspector Rick Tadus from All Valley Pest Control Inc. said that hes not surprised to hear about a dog like Macaroni.They have had dogs for termites for a while now. It doesnt surprise me, he said. If they can teach them to search for the odor of the pest, that dog is going to find them.Penny acquired Macaroni from certified master trainer Bill Whitstine of Florida Canine Academy in Harbor, Fla. Whitstine trains dogs to search for all types of things from money, drugs, and weapons for law enforcement agencies to mold and pest inspections like termites and bedbugs.Penny got Macaroni around the end of November and, according to him, they are the only bedbug detecting duo in Colorado. Its also the first dog that Penny has ever owned.This is a learning experience for both of us, Penny said. Ive always wanted to have my own business and always wanted a dog, so I said, lets try and do both at the same time.His wife teases him that starting the business was just a way for him to get a dog. But Penny is OK with that.Penny worked for a large pest control company in Denver, as an inspector, for about a year before he bought Macaroni. Then he started his business, Colorado Bed Bug K9 LLC. Both of them know what they are doing and Penny said that bedbugs are a real threat.Ive seen the problem first hand, Penny said. Its really here.Tadus agreed with Penny saying that bedbugs have become an issue in Garfield County about a year ago. But its been an even bigger problem for years nationwide.Its a nationwide epidemic, he said. Its terrible nationwide.Penny said that while his and Macaronis job is to determine if there is an infestation or not, he will recommend treatments and provide information on how the problem may have occurred.Bedbugs are not a filth issue like cockroaches, he said. I can get them, you can get them, the Queen of England can get them, the homeless shelter can get them.Penny is hoping that he and Macaroni can help prevent a small problem from spreading into a larger one. Penny said that over time he and Macaroni should be able to check up to 125 rooms in a single day.I try to put a lot of people at ease, because a lot of people can become pretty upset. Especially on the residential side of things, Penny said. With hotels, assisted living, or resorts, what we can provide is piece of mind for management and their guests. If something starts to get out hand hopefully well catch it before anybody else notices.Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.com