This past weekend, June 20 & 21, 2014, Green Dog Pest Service hosted a World Detector Dog Organization (W.D.D.O.) certification testing event and Master Trainer, David Latimer Handler’s clinic. In total 16 different dog/handler teams participated in either the clinic, the testing or both.
Participants were able to meet and network with bed bug inspection teams from Ontario, Canada, Vancouver, Canada, California’s Bay area, San Diego, greater Los Angeles, and Orange County. Despite the difference in geological locations, all these teams had one important commonality; they wanted to improve their handling skills, their dogs and the industry.
Latimer, from FSI K9 in Vincent Alabama, instructed handlers on some of the fundamentals of his teaching philosophy and most importantly, why he believes these fundamentals are important for bed bug scent detection canines as well as other scent detection disciplines like arson and narcotic searches. Skills were improved in the area of dogs working more independently, increasing their focus, off lead searching and holding an alert.
Certification testing was conducted on both days in the afternoon. The double blind testing methodology, which is mandatory in WDDO certification, was implemented. Dogs were challenged, not only by the hides, but the long day and the warm weather. Despite the challenges the dogs overall did well. For the teams who were unable to pass, most understood why and what they needed to improve upon.
Green Dog Pest Service believes third-party certification is one of the most important things canine scent detection teams can do to improve the bed bug dog industry. There are many excellent scent detection teams who are currently not third-party certified, however, there are many more who are not certified because quite frankly, they couldn’t pass the test. Currently the California Structural Pest Control Board doesn’t require third-party certification for canines working in the pest control industry. If the goal of the Board is consumer protection, we believe it should mandate some form of annual or biennial (every 2 years) third-party certification testing and perhaps some specific CEUs on scent detection work/inspection.
While many in the pest control industry will balk at this idea and complain about the added expense and added time this would require, we believe that it will pay for itself many times over with an increase in consumer confidence. Third-party certification would weed out the incompetent teams, which reflect badly on the industry as a whole.
We are already making plans to host a clinic and certification testing event next spring. We hope we get more participants and more teams on the path to third-party certification.