Carmel business owner, dog on trail of bed bugs


Karen Woods always wanted a business of her own.

She wanted that business to offer flexibility and be unique. She accomplished her goal by opening Precision Canine Bed Bug Detection Services in early 2020.

“I own a dog that is trained to find bed bugs in areas that are difficult to visually inspect,” she said. “I actually stumbled upon this type of business by accident. I was intrigued with the scent-detection aspect and after talking to and shadowing business owners in two other states.”

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Karen Woods and her dog Buddy work as a team for Precision Canine Bed Bug Detection Services. (Photo courtesy of Karen Woods)

Her dog, Buddy, a purebred English springer spaniel, was trained by a company in California specifically for bed bug detection.

“He is trained to find bed bugs in all life stages, from eggs to adults,” Woods said. “He does not detect dead bugs.”

Woods said a canine successfully detects bed bugs with an accuracy rate of more than 90 percent compared to a 35 percent success rate for a human visual inspection.

“Bed bugs are extremely good at hiding in very tiny places,” she said.

Woods provides services for both commercial and residential properties.

“I started the business right before the pandemic hit,” she said. “Difficult timing for sure. However, business is going well, and I look forward to growing even more now that most businesses are open, and people are traveling again. Precision Canine is one of only a few canine bed bug detection businesses that is independent and not affiliated with a pest control or heat treatment company in Indiana.

“By remaining independent, I do not have a vested interest in the outcome of the inspection. I only provide confirmation of the presence or absence of bed bugs.”

Woods said the training process is the same for all scent-detection canines, whether the target is explosives, drugs, currency or cadavers.

“It’s about isolating the specific scent, repetitive exposure and rewarding the dog with either food or a toy when they find it,” she said. “Buddy’s ongoing training includes the use of live bed bugs in all stages of life, pseudo scents and dead bugs. Dead bugs are used during training to make sure he does not positively alert on them while working in the field.”

Woods said she and Buddy are certified as a team through the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association. The certification is granted after a team passes a detection test under observation by NESDCA officials. The team must test annually to be considered current.

Woods said bed bugs are commonly found in apartment complexes, nursing homes, libraries, office buildings, public transportation, emergency rooms, hotels and college dorms.

“I really enjoy being able to help people and provide some peace of mind,” Woods said. “Having bed bugs or thinking you may have bed bugs is extremely stressful. It’s hard for someone to get a restful night’s sleep under those circumstances. It’s always a great day for me and my customer when Buddy doesn’t find any bugs.”

After graduating from Carmel High School and Purdue University, Woods worked in management in the financial services industry for several years. She then took time off to raise her three kids, who are all CHS graduates.

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