Sniffing out the bugs

This is Cosmo.

Look out bedbugs, Cosmo will find you.

For my Digital Media Newsroom class, My partner Alex and I have been documenting the pest control business and how the outbreak of bedbugs in New York City have allowed them to stay afloat, and often profit, during the recession.

Cosmo is the key employee at Synergy Scents, a new business venture by the folks at Colony Pest management in Brooklyn. Alex and I went on a training run with Joe Sheehan and Cosmo.

Cosmo, who is a rat terrier from Florida, waited in the car while Joe hid various vials of bedbugs around the apartment. Then, like a bullet, he ricocheted around the apartment bouncing from the floor to the furniture and back again. He followed his nose and quickly located the the vial and was rewarded with a treat from Joe.

According to Joe, the use of a the dog is 90-95 percent effective, whereas the traditional human eyesight inspection is only 30 percent accurate.

On a good run, Cosmo finds the bugs then sits patiently until he is rewarded with a treat. Cosmo’s rambunctiousness didn’t always end with him patiently waiting. More often than not, he dug into furniture as if he was trying to dig up the tiny bugs.

I am not one to judge the effectiveness of the service, but I will say it is the most novel approach to eliminating bedbugs that I’ve seen during the course of the project.

He was pretty cute, too. Check back soon for a link to our full multimedia project, which includes some up close and personal video of bedbugs in an infested apartment and Cosmo hard at work in our audio slideshow. For now, I’ve embedded it for your viewing pleasure.

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