Carmel enterprise proprietor, canine on path of mattress bugs • Present Publishing

Carmel business owner, dog on trail of bed bugs • Current Publishing

Karen Woods always wanted her own business.

She wanted this company to be flexible and unique. She achieved her goal by opening Precision Canine Bed Bug Detection Services in early 2020.

“I own a dog that is trained to find bed bugs in areas that are difficult to visually inspect,” she said. “Actually, I came across this type of business by accident. I became intrigued by the scent detection aspect and after speaking to and following business owners in two other states.”

Karen Woods and her dog Buddy work as a team for Precision Canine Bed Bug Detection Services. (Photo courtesy of Karen Woods)

Her dog Buddy, a purebred English Springer Spaniel, was specially trained by a company in California to detect bed bugs.

“It’s trained to find bed bugs at all stages of life, from eggs to adults,” Woods said. “He doesn’t find dead bugs.”

Woods said a dog successfully detects bed bugs with an accuracy rate of more than 90 percent, compared to a 35 percent success rate with a human visual inspection.

“Bed bugs are extremely good at hiding in very small places,” she said.

Woods provides services for both commercial and residential real estate.

“I started the business just before the pandemic hit,” she said. “Difficult timing for sure. However, business is doing well and I look forward to growing even more now that most shops are open and people are traveling again. Precision Canine is one of the few canine bed bug detection companies that is independent and not affiliated with any pest control or heat treatment company in Indiana.

“Since I remain independent, I have no personal interest in the outcome of the inspection. I only confirm the presence or absence of bed bugs.”

Woods said the training process is the same for all scent detection dogs, whether the target is explosives, drugs, currency or dead bodies.

“It’s about isolating the specific smell, being exposed to it repeatedly, and rewarding the dog with either food or a toy when it finds it,” she said. “Buddy’s ongoing training includes the use of live bed bugs at all life stages, pseudo-scents and dead bugs. Dead bugs are used during training to ensure he is not positively alerting them while working in the field.”

Woods said she and Buddy are certified as a team by the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association. Certification is granted after a team passes a detection test under observation by NESDCA officials. The team must test annually to be considered current.

Woods said bed bugs are commonly found in apartment complexes, nursing homes, libraries, office buildings, public transportation, emergency rooms, hotels and college dormitories.

“I really enjoy being able to help people and bring some peace of mind,” Woods said. “Having bed bugs, or thinking you have bed bugs, is extremely stressful. It’s hard for someone to get a good night’s sleep under these circumstances. It’s always a great day for me and my client when Buddy doesn’t find any mistakes.”

After graduating from Carmel High School and Purdue University, Woods spent several years in management positions in the financial services industry. She then took time off to raise her three children, all of whom are CHS graduates.

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