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It’s Beagles vs. Bed Bugs in California

Bed bugs. The two words are enough to make you cringe. But what’s worse is that a new study finds that the tiny biters are on the rise. So what’s a person to do? Call in the dogs!

Iso Tech, a pest control company based in Covina, Calif., has a trio of beagles on the job, the only dogs certified on the west coast by Nesdca (National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association) to search out bed bugs.

The pooches — beagles Bailey (above), age 7, and Maddie, 3, and beagle mix Zip, age 2 — seek out and confirm the presence of bed bugs and their eggs at various living spaces, including dorms, hospitals, retirement homes and hotels.

“The beagles are really exceptional at this kind of work, because of their olfactory senses,” says Erik Alden, supervisor of Iso Tech’s bed bug scent division.

Alden says the bed bug detection business has been booming over the past three years. “Our calls have skyrocketed from just a few hundred three or four years ago, to several thousand. We did 18,000 inspections last year. It is the biggest problem facing pest control now,” he told PEOPLE Pets.

Each of Iso Tech’s dogs began training for the business at age one. When they’re not searching for bugs, the dogs spend time at Iso Tech’s training and research facility. And when they’re off the clock, they go home with Alden.

Alden says the dog’s sensitive noses do all the work. “They can identify a very small amount of bed bugs,” he says, “down to just one egg.”

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