Pioneer Pest Detection: A Team of Noses Sniffs Out Bedbugs

Mar 03, 2011, 16:50 ET from Pioneer Human Services

SEATTLE, March 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In September 2010, the first national bedbug convention was held in Chicago. Over 300 people attended the conference and most agreed that "you are either battling the bedbug issue or about to." The Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United States Department of Agriculture all consider bedbugs a serious public health threat.


Seattle-based, non-profit, Pioneer Human Services, is one of the nation's largest social enterprise organizations. Pioneer runs a number of businesses to support its mission of providing housing, substance abuse counseling, treatment, job training and jobs to individuals working toward self-sufficiency.

Bring in the Dogs

In early 2009, Pioneer-owned properties began battling bedbugs using the services of an outside pest control expert. But with an insidious pest like the came lectularius, it became apparent that it would be more cost effective for Pioneer to take matters into its own hands or "paws."

Pioneer Construction Services purchased its own bedbug-detection dog from a company in Florida in December 2009. A Yellow lab named CC – for Pioneer's motto "Chance for Change" – and her handler, Tony Haigh, went through an intensive, bedbug-detection certification program. CC learned how to sniff out the tiny critters that hide in beds, linens, carpet, clothes, furniture, and any place that's warm and dry. A year later, Pioneer added Zero, a frisky Border Collie mix to the Pioneer team. Zero and her handler, Michele Cruzat, are another one of Pioneer's dynamic duos that help detect the problem and then teach customers a variety of solutions.

"No one should have to live with bedbugs!" said Marla Gese, senior vice president of Pioneer Human Services. "We want to be part of the solution for our Pioneer properties and for other low-income housing providers. Detection dogs are an effective component in managing the growing bedbug infestation epidemic that we're all facing in the Pacific Northwest."

With demand growing, Pioneer acquired Pest Detection Northwest in January 2011. The acquisition includes the well-trained team of company owner and trainer Leigh Ann Coleman and Border Collie spaniel mix, detection dog Molly.

"I'm thrilled to bring my bedbug detection expertise and experience to Pioneer," said Ms. Coleman. "I can't imagine a better fit for both Molly and me and look forward to this new partnership."

Infrastructure and Implementation

Pioneer's Construction Services Division has the necessary customer service infrastructure in place, making it easy to schedule and provide a timely dispatch of its canine-detection teams to bedbug hotspots.

As a property owner and manager of affordable, low cost housing, Pioneer knows how critical it is to keep costs down while maintaining service levels. Pioneer Pest Detection services are value priced for other non-profit organizations and offered at higher, but still competitive, pricing for commercial customers.

"Providing the service at a lower rate helps control costs to other non-profit partners who are facing this expensive challenge," commented Gese.  

In addition to its canine crew and customer services infrastructure, Pioneer has a team trained to assist in resident education, detection preparation, clutter removal, and green treatment options, such as steam and diatomaceous earth (DE) applications.  

As residential managers and property owners seek bedbug eradication information from vetted sources, Ms. Gese and her canine crews are often invited to speak at leading housing consortium events.

Pioneer provides bedbug detection services to properties operated by Pioneer Human Services, to other housing providers as well as hotels, transportation providers, commercial properties, retail stores and private residences in Washington and Oregon.

About Pioneer Human Services

Founded in 1963, Seattle-based Pioneer Human Services is recognized nationwide, as a model social enterprise that successfully integrates needed wrap-around services to people on the margins of society. Employing nearly 1,000 individuals throughout the state of Washington at more than 50 locations, Pioneer is unique because it earns 99 percent of its revenue through the sale of products or fees for services. For more information visit us at

SOURCE Pioneer Human Services