Bed Bugs in Winnipeg

David Bessason has been training dogs to sniff out drugs and explosives for over thirty years, but he’s recently turned his dogs’ noses to a new foe – bed bugs.

“It’s an epidemic right now, I guess you could say, the bed bugs. A lot of it is peace of mind,” Bessason says at a training session for his fourteen-month-old rescue Rocky.

Bessason says he hopes to alleviate the emotional and psychological toll that bed bug infestations can cause, including lack of sleep, increased anxiety, and feelings of isolation and loneliness. Some people have even reported symptoms of PTSD following consecutive infestations.

Bessason trains dogs with Val Arpin, a pioneer of bed bug detection in Winnipeg. Arpin owns Patches, who was the first ever Bed bug sniffing dog in the city. Together, Arpin and Patches travel Manitoba sniffing out bed bugs in homes, apartment buildings, and businesses like MCC Thrift Shop.
These are vials of live and dead bed bugs at Investor’s Group Field on Jan. 26, 2019. They are being used in a training session for K-9 dogs.
Arpin says she and Patches have seen some pretty horrifying infestations.

“[We were] in an apartment block that was notorious for bed bugs in the walls, just notorious. And I walked in with her and the couch literally looked like rush hour traffic of bed bugs,” she says.

Bessason and Arpin hope that their combined expertise in bed bug detection and search dog training will raise the quality and accuracy of bed bug detection in Manitoba.

However, search dogs aren’t the only way to find the bugs. Winnipeg’s ‘bug boss’ Taz Stuart says to keep an eye out for the telltale blood stains, musty odour and tiny red bites that’ll appear on your skin.

Stuart stresses that if you do find anything, don’t just toss the infested material away. Instead, collect a sample and call a professional exterminator ASAP – you’ll stand a much greater chance of completely banishing the bugs.


Bed bug sniffing dogs
David Bessason and Val Arpin train a new fleet of bed bug sniffing dogs to help Winnipegger's flush out the pests.
Bed bugs by the numbers
RRCTV's Devon Shewchuk talks Winnipeg's bed bug problem by the numbers.
Bed bugs in thrift shops
RRCTV went to MCC Thrift Shop to find out how volunteers sort the goods and how they deal with the risk of bed bugs.
An exterminator on Winnipeg's bed bugs
RRCTV's Kaelen Bell talks to 'Bug Boss' Taz Stuart about how to spot and treat bed bugs.
The emotional and psychological toll of bed bugs
RRCTV's Kaelen Bell talks about the psychological and emotional toll of bed bug infestations.
Checking for bed bugs
The best ways to fight bed bugs in your home.