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Meet Kay McDonald of Bed Bug Detection K9s

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kay McDonald.

Kay, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I train and handle dogs in Search and Rescue. I have two certified dogs and the police deploy us to locate missing people. I saw that there was a high demand for bed bug detection canines and decided to train a dog to find bed bugs. My friend had a 1 1/2 year old Belgian Malinois cross and she agreed to let me have her. I trained her and certified her and started Bed Bug Detection K9s. Because of the large jobs I was getting, I decided to train a second dog, my border collie. There is a growing problem with bed bugs and exterminators will often call to have us inspect large facilities much more quickly than they are able to themselves. People also call us directly after they have been traveling or had a visitor who might have brought bed bugs.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a learning experience for both me and the dogs. Some environments are really challenging. My dogs are trim and if there is food on the floor, they are interested. I try to go through the facility first to make sure there are no pills or chemicals where we will be inspecting. Some people keep more things and have lots of clothing and personal belongings around and on the beds and sofas. Since the beds and sofas are the first place that the bed bugs will hang out, it’s important to have those available to inspect and that doesn’t always happen. We have a preparation list. My dogs also get distracted if someone is on the bed or sofa. The best inspections have a clear area and the residents wait in a different room so my dogs just focus on the job at hand. The dogs also get tired and need breaks. Having two dogs makes that much easier. Ongoing training is essential for the dogs as they pick up bad habits and training reinforces accurate, thorough inspections.

Bed Bug Detection K9s – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Bed Bug Detection K9s is just me and my two dogs. We focus on accuracy and I warrant my inspection so if you have any cause for concern during a period after the inspection (i.e. if we don’t find anything and you see evidence of bed bugs) then we will return to inspect at no additional charge. Quality is important to me. I bring both dogs and have a second dog verify any alerts. Since we are independent of any exterminator we have no vested interest in finding bed bugs. We will let you know either way if we detect bed bug odor or not. If we do I can give you names of exterminators that I have worked with if you request. If we get a big job that we can’t cover alone in a timely fashion I will ask a friend to bring her two dogs. That way we also verify any alerts and will let you know the outcome. So you can feel secure at our findings. My friend is as conscientious about training as I am and also has certified dogs. There are companies out there that don’t certify and just walk into the room and out. That is not an inspection. Bed bug scent cones are very small and it’s essential to take the time and detail to get accurate results.

The dogs need to be trained to inspect every area of each room and that takes time. We have been trained by some of the best detection people out there who also train narcotics and explosives dogs and they can’t make mistakes.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My more experienced dog, Spice, is really good at finding even one bed bug. She will alert and I trust her. We are not called in when people see bed bugs in their homes, they just treat. But if they are getting bitten and often they have had a number of exterminators in to do visual inspections who haven’t found anything. And they keep getting bitten. They don’t want to treat because people can get bites from other pests as well or just have dermatological issues. Also, many people don’t react to the bites so a husband and wife will the sleeping in the same bed and only the wife will get bites and people don’t believe her. This story has happened to me a number of times. A wife is getting bitten. Two or three exterminators have not found anything on visual inspections. Spice alerts and I tell them that they have bed bugs. We are not able to visually find them but bed bugs can squeeze into the smallest cracks. Often people will treat and they stop getting bitten. Sometimes they want to see the bed bugs so they wait and within 2-3 weeks they find bed bugs. I’m proud of the accuracy and dependability of my dogs.


  • Our base fee is $300 for the first hour within a reasonable driving proximity.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
@Dawn Rabinowitz
Nashoba Valley Voice/Anne O’Connor

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