They're used by cops to sniff out drugs and suspects in communities. But our Beth Croughan has more on two Hudson Valley dogs that are fighting bugs, not crime. And why lately, their noses have been put to the test.
KINGSTON, N.Y. -- Sophie's onto a scent. She's sniffing out bedbugs.
"She's 98 percent accurate in finding bedbugs. She's the only one north of New York City that we're aware of," said Paul Alley, President of Pestmaster Services in the Hudson Valley.
Lately, the Border Collie mix has been extremely busy. So busy, Paul Alley is training a second dog to help with the increased number of jobs. Fern is a two-year-old black Labrador.
"In the first nine years, I did $250 worth of bedbug work, in a nine year period. In the last 18 months, we're well over $100,000 in bedbug work," he said.
And while business is great for Pestmaster Services here in Kingston, the problem they're solving, Alley said, is only going to get worse.
"Within the next five years, our industry is predicting it to be the number one household pest in America," said Alley.
A pest that is showing up nearly everywhere, from movie theaters to clothing stores and even modes of transportation.
"Planes, trains, automobiles," explained Alley.
In fact, travel is one of the main reasons these bugs have become such an issue. That's how they're getting from place to place.
"She traveled down to the shore, she was there, brought bedbugs back, she came back she had 100 bites on her," Alley said of a recent customer.
Human blood is the main food source for bed bugs and their bites are usually found in groups of three.
"Three bites like a breakfast, lunch and dinner," Alley said.
The insects don't pose any public health risk. And they aren't associated with cleanliness, making it difficult to get rid of them on your own.
The National Pest Management Association reports companies that use to receive one to two calls a year, now receive one to two a week, which means, dogs like Sophie have their work cut out for them.