May 27, 2010 1:24 PM by Elaine Sheridan
A little 30-pound rescued shelter dog named Macaroni is helping Coloradoans sleep tight! How? Well, you see, Macaroni has a very special talent. He can find tiny little bedbugs lurking in places you can't see.
The little blood sucking bugs have been making a huge comeback in recent years "Bedbugs are just going ballistic everywhere," Michael F. Potter, Department of Entomology at the University of KY was recently quoted saying. "It is going to really rock this country." In fact according to the National Pest Management Association, bed bug infestations have increased 71% since 2001.
The problem is the insects are tiny and can hide pretty much anywhere. Most people wouldn't know the bugs were around if it weren't for the terrible skin infections they inflict. Once they get established it is hard to get rid of them.
This is where Macaroni and handler Walter Penny come in. Macaroni is a highly trained detection dog; Penny has worked in pest control for years, so Macaroni finds the bugs, and Penny educates property owners on ways to control them. It sounds pretty simple, but it took many hours for this team to hone their skills.
Penny was working for a large pest control company and saw firsthand how quickly the bed bug problem was growing, and had heard that dogs were being used on the East Coast for bed bug detection. Penny always wanted to own small business and he loved dogs, so this seemed like a win/win opportunity.
After many months of research he took the plunge and made plans to get his dog from a training academy in Florida. Even with the tumbling economy, Walter quit his job and hit the ground running with the very first bed bug detection dog in the area and Colorado Bed Bug K9, LLC was born.
Macaroni, a Whippet/Labrador/Beagle mix or a "Wabble", can detect bed bugs more accurately and much quicker than a human inspector could, and there is a big demand these days. So much so the team has traveled up and down the Front Range, into the mountain ski areas performing bed bug inspections.
"Macaroni and I passionately love what we do," said Penny. "We are delighted to be serving Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region."
Macaroni works hard to keep his nose in tip top shape. In addition to their inspection jobs, usually three to five a week, Penny regularly hides glass vials filled with bed bugs in various stages of development in mattresses, tables, or behind wall panels for Macaroni to find.
By keeping an eye, or in this case a nose on the bed bugs, homeowners and businesses, especially hotels, can catch bed bugs in early stages before they become a huge problem that is difficult to fix.