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Bedbugs Bite Back
Detection dogs’ alerts are challenged

It’s raining cats and dogs at The New York Times. Today’s front page features stories about how cats lap milk (actually pretty cool and weirdly complicated; dogs’ methods are described as “crude” by comparison) and some new wrinkles in the crusades of bedbug-sniffing dogs.

 
We’ve written a bit about bedbug detection in The Bark. As the bitey mites have wreaked havoc, especially in New York and New Jersey, dogs have been brought in to detect the “moving needles in a haystack.” Everyone was been singing their praises until a series of possible false negatives led to cranky customers and lawsuits. The jury appears to be out. There are many reasons the dogs may alert when no evidence of bedbugs is confirmed—the most insidious scenario is that dogs are encouraged to alert so homeowners, coop boards and landlords are forced to pay for full exterminations.
 
Lesson? We can train dogs to sniff out nasty critters, but not scammers.

 

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Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom.

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