By KATIE COLLOP
Aces bedbug is a Canton-based business that specializes in bedbug detection by using ball-driven Labrador retrievers to search and alert on their findings.
Aces is a certified bedbug-detection company that uses only Labrador retrievers. The dogs are 97 percent accurate – which is 50 percent more accurate than other means of detection. Aces takes pride in providing top-rated service, whether you are buying a dog or having a detection done in your home or business. The dogs can detect not only live bedbugs, but also viable eggs. The kennels, located in Canton, Ga., are insulated to accommodate for all types of weather.
Aces sells bedbug dogs to pest-control companies. It also does detections for individuals in their home or business as well as pest control companies in the Southeast. One of its highly skilled trainers brings his or her dog out and leads the detection.
Kevin Haim and Bob Timbrook founded Aces in 2010. Neither of them had ever done anything with dogs before, let alone training bedbug dogs. The idea first came when Haim was having issues with bedbugs in his condo in Hawaii. Out of the seven islands, only one had a bedbug detection dog. The condo association had to fly in this dog from Honolulu, which made it very expensive for the detection. Seeing that the bedbug business was small and growing, Haim and Timbrook came up with the idea of bedbug sales and detection.
Careful Testing of Dogs
Aces trainers test between 10 to 25 dogs before picking one that is best for the job. Once they’ve selected a dog with excellent drive, the trainers take the dog to the training wall to give it a chance to learn basic tactics to detect scents. The dog is then rewarded every time it’s near the scent of the bedbugs. Because of this, the dog now thinks the scent of bedbugs is associated with its toy. Once the dog understands the connection fully, the trainers then have the dog sit to alert when he or she smells the scent of bedbugs.
After a period of two to four weeks, the dog is ready to start working inside and after a few months of continuous training, the dog is ready to start real detection jobs – whether that means doing detection with Aces or being sold to a pest control company. A lot of other bedbug detection companies use food rewards to make their bedbug dogs detect the bugs. They starve their dogs in order to make them detect bedbugs.
The dogs have to be led by their handler. Timbrook, Aces handler and trainer, loves what he does.
“Seeing this business grow first hand, especially with detections, has been amazing. Working with these dogs is truly astonishing and I love being surrounded by these smart and talented animals on a day-to-day business,” Timbrook said.
Timbrook is a sophomore at Kennesaw State University and he’s majoring in professional sales. He has been working with the company for the past six months. Once he graduates, he hopes to become more involved with the selling and marketing aspect of Aces. He always wants to remain a handler and trainer and hopes to one day be the head trainer.
Senior trainer Ray Figueroa has been in the dog training business for a long time. He is currently a Marietta City police officer and has been on the force for 11 years. He has been a K-9 handler and trainer for the past seven years, training everything from pet obedience to the most elite bomb dogs used by the police and military. He has also trained drug dogs and dogs used for protection. He has trained all of the dogs for Aces – he believes that training is an ongoing process that takes time and effort.
“Aces is a great company to work with. I have always enjoyed training dogs and Aces is the perfect place to do what I love to do,” said Figueroa.
Training Classes Give New Handlers Needed Knowledge
Aces is also unique in the sense that they host training classes for the buyers of their dogs. Rather than just ship the dogs to their new home, they have the new handler come in for a training class led by Figueroa and other trainers. This gives the new handlers the knowledge they need to use the dogs to their fullest potential. The trainers lead the class, which teaches new handlers how to communicate and read their new dog. Handlers become a team with their dog.
Once a customer buys a dog, he or she sends a handler that comes down to the training facility in Canton for a six-day handling class. The class starts out with classroom work, which helps the new handler learn the history of scent detection dogs and how they were trained. At the end of the first day, the new handler starts working with his or her new dog. The training week continues with the new handler and the dog learning more about each other. The new handler is also taken to multiple offsite locations where he or she is able to see the dog in action. Because new handlers learn at different paces, the experience is unique for each training class. All of the new handlers and owners leave with confidence that they will be able to use their dog in an actual detection.
Another unique aspect of Aces is that the new handlers are invited and encouraged to attend a retraining class at no extra cost to them a few months after returning home. The retraining class ensures that the bedbug dogs are still at the top of their game. The class also makes sure that the owners of the dog can feel confident in the detection process.
The Art of Bedbug Detection and Treatment
Aces travels to many local hotels and even colleges located in Georgia. It is next to impossible to see the bedbugs. Bedbugs are white and are very good at hiding when there is light. The only ways to notice them are itchy bite marks and tiny blood droplets on the mattress and feces buildup on the mattress. Bed bug infestations have risen by 500 percent in the past few years. The saying “don’t let the bed bugs bite” has turned into a reality for lots of people.
Depending on the level of infestation a pest control company heat treatment can cost anywhere from $1000 upward of $4000 per room to treat. Chemical treatment for bedbugs has been found to be less effective than heat treatment, because of the rapid reproduction and immunity to chemicals that these bugs are building up. Treatment in most cases, especially in large complexes, is an ongoing process that takes several heat and chemical treatments. It also requires a lot of dog detection to ensure that the bedbugs are completely destroyed and have not begun to reproduce.
Time and money is not on the side of a dormitory that is infested with bedbugs. With the large rate of reproduction, it is very easy for the bedbugs to return to a treated room before they are completely eliminated. That is why early detection is key. The dogs can get through a lot of room in a little amount of time, which gives pest control companies the chance to get ahead of the bedbugs.
The only way to ensure that a bedbug infestation is under control is to have recurring dog inspections. Even if they have not had a problem, more and more hotels are beginning to do preventative inspections, so they are able to detect a problem early and before it is too late to remove the problem quickly.
Focus on Customer Service
Aces was founded on the aspects of customer service. One of the main reasons Aces bedbugs was started was the lack of customer service Haim and Timbrook found in other bedbug canine sales. In the beginning, Haim and Timbrook decided to try and buy a dog to strictly do detection in Maui. Instead the process became a horrible experience due to lack of communication.
Customer service was lacking and the dogs ended up having to be returned. Because they had received no formal instructions on how to properly use the dog, the process didn’t work. After this experience, Aces moved in a different direction becoming a home-based company that would provide superior customer service to its clients.
Aces is now one of the top bedbug canine sellers in the United States, not least because of its great customer service. When a customer buys a dog he or she is given the personal cell phone number of everyone in the company – including Figueroa, who is always available for questions. With its top-notch training and edge on the competition, Aces will undoubtedly go far.