PHOENIX - They are blood-sucking creatures that can be found anywhere you go. Getting rid of them, however, is not so easy.
In the past few weeks, reports of bed bugs have come in from Valley movie theaters, the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, and call centers.
Pest control experts say most places are usually proactive when it comes to keeping the bugs out.
Many of them are even turning to trained bed bug dogs for help.
Louis Robinson, who owns Robinson Dog Training, started training bed bug dogs when a local pest control company came to him for help.
Robinson said dogs are much more reliable than humans when it comes to spotting the pests.
"Studies are showing humans that are looking for bed bugs are 30% likely to find them; whereas dogs are somewhere in the 99th percentile," said Robinson.
He added that a large business that might take inspectors two to three hours to search through, could be done in less than a minute by a trained bed bug dog.
Robinson started out as a bomb dog handler for the US Air Force before launching his dog training business. He has trained police dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs, protection dogs, and dogs who are able to detect everything from Sonoran toads to rattlesnakes.
He launched Bug Dog Pro after seeing there was a need for bed bug detectors in the Valley.
"We rescued Lucy from a trailer park out in Apache Junction. She was just covered in mud," said Robinson.
Lucy, who could understand commands in both English and German, started her bed bug training early.
"I started out by scraping bed bugs off the walls into a container, and started training the dog as to what the odor was," said Robinson.
As she "walked" a room, Lucy was trained to sit when she smelled bed bugs.
Another Valley company that trained and used bed bug dogs was Cymex K-9, owned by Keith Boddington.
Boddington said his company's bed bug detection dogs had traveled throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and California performing bed bug inspections prior to treatment.
He added that bed bug dogs were best used in large commercial spaces and businesses.
Both dog trainers noted that over the years, bed bugs could be found in the unlikeliest of places.
"Lucy has been at a plethora of locations. She's been to public buildings, she's been at call centers. Generally when there's a bed bug problem people notice because they're getting bit, but in the early stages of a bed bug infestation you may not see them. That is where the dogs come in," said Robinson.
He added that bed bugs could be found everywhere from sofas and mattresses, to behind picture frames, in the cracks between your carpet and the wall, and even inside wall outlets that enable them to travel from apartment to apartment, or from one business or hotel room to another.
"Cleanliness doesn't matter. This is not about how clean you are or not. They're just looking for a blood meal," said Robinson.
Detection services are only available to licensed pest control companies.
The contact for Keith Boddington at Cymex K-9 is 888-928-4364.
Go to www.cymexk9.com for more information.