Everybody has heard of drug dogs, bomb dogs, arson dogs and tracking dogs. It’s common knowledge that dogs help public safety and government officials in the fight against illicit drugs and terrorist threats.
Dogs now have a new job at which it turns out they are very good: mold. Mold inspectors from around the world have discovered that dogs can locate mold odor more quickly and efficiently than the best electronic equipment. The ability to quickly pinpoint the source of a mold infestation saves home and business owners time and money by allowing remediation efforts to focus on the exactly where the mold is rather than the shotgun approach used by some remediation firms that don’t have mold canines to help them.
So, why doesn’t everybody in the mold detection business have a dog? Why aren’t more dog trainers training and marketing mold detection dogs? There are a lot of reasons why all companies don’t use dogs. One, not everyone is cut out to handle or even own a dog, let alone a professional work dog. Handling a work dog may look easy, but the people you may have seen that make it look effortless worked hard to develop the skills and abilities that appear to just come naturally. For others it may be as simple as not knowing what dogs are really capable of and how they can help in a mold inspection.
As their popularity continues to grow, the word will spread and a lot more companies will consider how a dog could help them help their clients. As more consumers become aware of the dogs and their abilities, they will ask inspecting companies about dogs. The pressure on inspection firms to offer canine assisted mold inspections will continue to increase as public knowledge increases.
So, where can a mold inspection firm go to get a dependable, well trained dog? There really are a limited number of choices, and navigating the maze of PR and to get to a quality mold dog trainer can be quite a journey. With a little common sense and taking time to see through all the hype, it is possible to find someone who offers a well trained dog at a reasonable price. This article is about one such trainer who is also one of the pioneers in the training and deployment of dogs for the detection of mold and pests, FSI K9 Academy. FSI is owned and operated by David and Kathy Latimer in Vincent, AL.
The head trainer is David Latimer. David holds various K9 related training certifications and has years of experience training and handling professional work dogs. David’s work experience includes fire and explosion investigations, police K9 trainer and handler and training termite dogs, bedbug dogs others for the detection of health and property threats.
So, what’s the difference in FSI and other dog trainers? The answer is simple – the way FSI trains dogs. At the outset of David’s dog training career he learned and used widely accepted training methodologies and stuck to conventional wisdom about dog training. Most of the trainers he worked with were trying to communicate with dogs on a more human level and expected the dogs to be motivated by what drives humans. The result was often exasperation for the trainer and frustration for the dog.
David and Kathy both felt that something was missing and became convinced that there had to be a better way than ‘how we’ve always done it’. They realized that you have to have more than just a kibble of food or a favorite toy to get a dog to give its best effort. This motivated them to experiment with new ways of training and resulted in the development of the unique and revolutionary method of dog training FSI employs today called Basic Instinct Training or B.I.T. for short.
B.I.T. is a proprietary method of dog training that employs the dog’s natural instincts and drives, channeling the dog’s genetic programming to hunt, track and stalk prey. Every detector dog trained at FSI, whether it’s for insect pests, explosives, arson, tracking, narcotics or mold detection is trained with this exclusive and revolutionary method of dog training. B.I.T. was developed through years of experimentation, observation and experience and through consultation with canine behavioral experts. B.I.T. is based on positive reinforcement and operant conditioning in an extraordinary mix. Because of its emphasis on positive reinforcement B.I.T. produces top quality work dogs that are happy, highly motivated, excited and enthusiastic.
Another important fact that sets FSI’s mold dog program apart is the materials that the dogs are trained on. FSI exclusively uses the mold dog training kit developed through collaboration between FSI and MouldWorks Labs, Inc. The Mold Works team is led by 40 year veteran of mycology, Dr. George Carroll. Dr. Carroll and his staff grow specific species of mold for this kit and package them in easily used containers. Dr. Carroll and his staff used their knowledge and experience with mold to select specific species for inclusion in the kit and FSI offered advice and conducted field testing on questions about the configuration, size and ease of use of containers. The result is a comprehensive training kit that helps prepare a dog to not only find the odors of the most common molds, it also ensures that the dog is familiar with the odors of molds that present the greatest threats to the health of building occupants.
FSI has neither financial interest in this kit nor profits in any manner from its sale or distribution. Their motivation to participate in its development and testing of this kit was based on a desire to have quality training aids available to incorporate into their training program and that owner/handlers could use to maintain the dog’s efficiency.
David also currently serves as the founding president of WDDO (World Detector Dog Organization). David and FSI are proud to be a part of WDDO, because WDDO offers a disinterested, third party evaluation of a dog and handler team’s skills at locating specific odors. Other organizations currently available to private teams are fully owned or controlled by a private trainer who operates the organization for profit or personal gain. WDDO brings together the public and private sector in a mutually beneficial structure. Its membership base includes police officers, fire investigators and other public safety officials who use canines in their role in law enforcement and other public safety endeavors.
Several prominent trainers are a part of WDDO and are working together to offer reasonable, credible and comprehensive certification and validation testing to private and public scent detection dog handlers. If you have a scent detection dog or you are a scent detection dog trainer, WDDO welcomes you to join us – no matter who trained you and your dog. You will have access to the benefits of networking and support from other handlers and professional trainers from across the nation. Visit WDDO at www.wddo.org.
FSI is committed to helping Mold-Help.org continue its effort to educate consumers and offer assistance to people concerned about mold and its insidious health affects. As a reflection of FSI’s commitment, they recently fully trained and donated a mold dog to Mold Help.org. The dog, a female, ten month old yellow Lab named ‘Julie’ is going to join Chris Rad and his organization, Austin Dura-Clean, in their effort to help homeowners and business owners in the Austin, Texas area detect mold quicker and more reliably than ever before. David originally offered his assistance by way of conducting remedial training on a dog trained by another mold dog trainer and donated to Mold-Help by its handler. The plan was for David to “tune” the dog up and then train Chris to use him.
After a couple of months working with the donated dog, it became clear to David that the donated dog was not going to perform to the standards David sets for his own dogs. David contacted everyone involved and all agreed to allow him find a home for the donated dog as a pet. David started the search for a new dog with the drive and ability to perform at the same high level of proficiency that FSI expects of all its dogs. On his first trip to the local shelter, the Shelby County Humane Society, he found Julie and the rest is history. Julie excelled at scent work and has turned out to be a top notch mold dog.
If you need a detector dog to help with your livelihood, you can also visit FSI on the web at www.FSIK9.com. You won’t be bombarded with absurd claims of grandeur and hype. Dogs aren’t very impressed by TV appearances nor do they read university studies; all dogs know is what they’re taught. What you’ll get from FSI are reliable, well trained work dogs at reasonable prices.
The Latin phrase ‘caveat emptor’, let the buyer beware, is appropriately quoted here. If you want a good work dog at a reasonable price; make sure the trainer you choose focuses on dog training rather than hype and personal aggrandizement. David and Kathy know what it means to rely on a dog for your safety or to help you make a living. They will train a dog for you the same way they train dogs for themselves.