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In this episode, you will learn about the role of mold dogs as a tool used in mold inspection of an indoor environment.

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About My Guest

My guest for this episode is Bill Whitstine.  Bill Whitstine, CMT owns and operates the Florida Canine Academy, which trains bomb, drug, money, weapons, termite, mold, and accelerant detection canine teams.  Several years ago, Bill identified the growing problem of mold in homes and businesses and worked with researchers to further investigate the possibility that dogs could be trained to detect molds.  Bill founded Mold Dog, a subsidiary of the Florida Canine Academy, to train and certify mold-detecting dogs.  Bill has been a leader in the field of canine training since 1989 when he was the first person to attend the Maine State Police Canine Academy in Accelerant Detection.  Bill is the author of the only published book on accelerant detection canines and was the founding president of the Canine Accelerant Detection Association as well as the International Termite Detector Dog Association, which are both international organizations.  Bill has been featured on numerous shows, including several segments on the Animal Planet and The Discovery Channel.

Key Takeaways

  • How are the dogs protected from any potential harm?
  • What safeguards are put in place to keep the dogs healthy?
  • How are dogs identified to become part of the training program?
  • What is the training program for a mold dog?
  • How many different types of mold can the dogs detect?
  • Are the dogs able to identify Actinobacteria or endotoxins?
  • What is the experience of a mold dog inspection?
  • Can the dogs sense mold in an attic or crawlspace?
  • Do appliances need to be moved to optimize the inspection?
  • How often are dehumidifiers a source of mold exposure?
  • Could there be false negatives or false positives?
  • What should be done in the home in advance of the dog's visit to prepare for the inspection?
  • How many issues does a mold dog alert on in an average inspection?

Connect With My Guest

http://Mold-Dog.com

Interview Date

March 18, 2024

Transcript

Transcript Disclaimer: Transcripts are intended to provide optimized access to information contained in the podcast.  They are not a full replacement for the discussion.  Timestamps are provided to facilitate finding portions of the conversation.  Errors and omissions may be present as the transcript is not created by someone familiar with the topics being discussed.  Please Contact Me with any corrections.  

[INTRODUCTION]

[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts, empowering your better health. And now, here's Scott, your BetterHealthGuy.

The content of the show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.

[00:00:35] SCOTT: Hello, everyone. And welcome to episode 199 of the BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts series. Today's guest is Bill Whitstine. And the topic of the show is Mold Dogs. Bill Whitstine owns and operates the Florida Canine Academy, which trains bomb, drug, money, weapons, termite, mold, and accelerant-detection canine teams.

Several years ago, Bill identified the growing problem of mold in homes and businesses and worked with researchers to further investigate the possibility that dogs could be trained to detect molds. Bill founded Mold Dog, a subsidiary of the Florida Canine Academy, to train and certify mold-detecting dogs.

Bill has been a leader in the field of canine training since 1989 when he was the first person to attend the Maine State Police K-9 Academy in accelerant detection. Bill is the author of the only published book on accelerant detection canines and was the founding president of the Canine Accelerant Detection Association as well as the International Termite Detector Dog Association, which are both International organizations. Bill has been featured on numerous shows including several segments on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel.

And now, my interview with Bill Whitstine.

[INTERVIEW]

[00:01:54] SCOTT: Finding mold in the interior of a water-damaged building is often difficult at best. I've been aware of the potential value of mold dogs and exploring potential sources of mold in an environment for some time. Very excited today to have Bill Whitstine on the podcast with us to talk all things mold dogs. Thanks for being here today, Bill.

[00:02:15] BILL: You're welcome. I'm excited. It's my first podcast.

[00:02:19] SCOTT: I'm excited as well. First, talk to us a bit about how you became interested in the topic of mold. And why you feel that dogs could potentially be part of the solution for of us that have dealt with mold illness, those that are dealing with, struggling with mold exposure? Did you have a personal health journey like so many of us that drove your passion for the work you do today? And how long have you been training mold dogs?

[00:02:44] BILL: Yes. My daughter and as well as my wife were mold-sensitive. And at the time, I was law enforcement. I was a fire marshal. And I had arson dogs. Dogs that can detect arson and tell you where a fire started. And if someone set it intentionally using petroleum. And was at a conference – and back then they called it water losses. It was long, long time ago. They didn't even call it mold. And the insurance companies were really concerned because it was costing them a lot of money. And I said, "Well, we could do a dog with that." And they said, "Oh." A couple of scientists said, "No, you can't." And that's how it all started. We did some research. And studied it and found out it would work. And it did work. And that's been over 30 years ago, believe it or not.

[00:03:29] SCOTT: Wow. Amazing. Maybe let's get the elephant in the room off the table before we continue on. And that is that some people feel that using dogs to detect mold is potentially harmful to the animals. My thought process when I first learned about this was that the homes that the mold dogs are living in with their owners, their handlers are probably some of the cleanest from a mold perspective. They have a mold dog that could alert them to problems. Versus many of us with chronic illness that have known or unknown mold in our environments that also have pets that get similar ongoing daily exposures that we're getting. How do you respond to those that contend that this work is cruel to the dogs?

[00:04:14] BILL: We're concerned, these dogs, they're a tool. But they're part of the family. I mean, my dog – I'm with my dog more than I'm with my wife and family. They're very, very important to us. And their health is important to us as well. And probably the most research that's been done has been on arson dogs. It's a very, very harsh environment, including mold, as well as burnt materials, and all kinds of chemicals.

The study was done on those dogs and they check their blood work and their chest x-rays and they found that it didn't bother them as much as even the humans. Because dogs are – however you believe God or whoever created them, to where when they're sniffing, they're not inhaling. And what happens is the dog sniffs the scent and then blows it out. Okay?

When a dog is sniffing the leaves out tracking for a rabbit or trying to hunt for their food, they're smelling much more mold than they ever would in a home. Because, first of all, when we go to a house, if it's yellow, black, blue, green mold everywhere, we don't even go inside. I don't want to go inside. Okay? We're going in houses and the dogs in the house maybe 20, 30 minutes. And it's very, very small amounts. The dogs are smelling much less than they would in the wild, in the woods, in the grounds, and the leaves, and stuff.

As well as we check the dogs. We're doing the blood work and the chest x-rays in the dog and making sure, just like for us, that they are staying healthy. And then we also detox the dogs just like we detox. My dog's health is very, very important. Usually, when we hear that, it's somebody that doesn't know or understand about this. And they're very, very small amounts that they're sniffing and for very, very, very minor times.

The stories we hear about animals being affected by the mold are usually when they live there. They're in the house 365, 24/7 and it's affecting them. And that's a bad, bad environment. But we're not going into those.

[00:06:25] SCOTT: And if you had mold in your own home where the dog spends the majority of their time, you would certainly know about that.

[00:06:33] BILL: Yeah. We know about it right away. Check my house regularly to make sure it's mold-free and the dogs mold-free. I'm sorry. I'm being attacked by a dog. Okay. But it is a dog's world. Sorry about that.

[00:06:51] SCOTT: No. No. Not a problem at all.

[00:06:52] BILL: Probably happen a couple of times. Because they figure out, when I'm sitting still, they can come over and attack me.

[00:07:00] SCOTT: Let's just kind of build on that a little bit then. Have you observed over time that these dogs develop any health problems? Become sicker than the average dog? Have a shorter life expectancy? I know you have the same rules for your mold dogs as those used for arson dogs where the dogs are regularly tested, closely monitoring. Talk to us a little bit more about what you observe over time with the health of the dog. And then some of the protections that are in place to support the animals, the testing process, and so on.

[00:07:32] BILL: Sure. And we have not seen any type of concern with the dogs. Actually, each year, my dogs tests, their chest X-rays and their blood works, are better than mine. But we check them regularly. And we just haven't seen any issues. The lifespan of the dogs are the same that we've had. Or the same as when you would as a regular pet.

My last dog, Ozzie, was 17 when he died. He was a small Jack Russell. They do live longer. He lived at 17. The dog, the other mold dog I had was Mindy. She's a Lab-Rottweiler mix. And she was 14 when she passed. That's the life expectancy of a bigger dog. It's normal. We never found any issues. The veterinarians never found anything. And we check that pretty regularly.

And, well, we try to do it twice a year, which is more often than I even do myself. I do myself once a year. We do the dogs twice a year. I have two mole dogs. They're getting 50% or less of what I do, what I'm seeing. I have Wyatt Earp and Sarge. And we make sure when they're – like I said, we're checking their blood work. We also do detoxing with the veterinarians. And also, a lot of the human doctors have helped me with that too with the dogs. We're constantly checking that, and watching it, making sure. And if we found something, which we have not throughout the 30 years we've been doing this with the mold dogs, we haven't seen it.

[00:09:09] SCOTT: You've trained dogs for things other than mold in your career as well. You talked about arson dogs and so on. It sounds like you don't see any problems with the mold dogs that you don't see in those others. And to your earlier comment, the mold dogs and their exposures may actually be less problematic than the arson dog, for example.

[00:09:30] BILL: Yeah. Yeah. The arson dog is a way more harsh environment and it's watched very, very closely. My arson dog was 13 when she passed. And she died of old age. Not of any situation from the dog. And we have lots of research on that and data. And we have dogs for termites. We have dogs for bed bugs. And we don't see any health differences between our termite dogs, versus our mold dog, versus a bed bug dog. We're watching that, and comparing that, and making sure.

Listen, I love my dogs. Okay? And if it affected him, I would stop. But we're performing a service. I'm a retired fireman. And I like helping people. I make money doing this. But I also feel like I'm too old to fight fires anymore. But I also feel like I'm helping people and we're getting them out of these environments.

And most of the jobs we go to, we do a lot of people that have been through a huge process. 90% or better of my jobs I go to, they've already had mold inspectors, mold remediators there. They've done remediation. And most of my people are looking for that last little bit. That they can't find any other way. And that's what we do. We come in and I brag all the time that, "When I leave, you'll know if you have mold." "If you do. Where it's at? And how much?"

And we're going to most places, most of our customers are really down to that last little thing that they – maybe an ERMI is picking up or air samples are picking up. But they don't know where it's at. And they've done all the standard things but they just can't find that last little bit. And that's kind of like what I think is cool that we were able to find that and help them fix it.

[00:11:20] SCOTT: It sounds like the protections, the testing that you have in place, when you're looking at the lungs, doing blood testing, and so on that you have not found any unexpected issues in the mold dogs that would not be considered normal for any animal. Talk to us about how long the average dog is able to work as a mold dog. How old are they when they start? Is this something they then can do for the duration of their life? Or is there some time frame that they're able to do this work?

[00:11:48] BILL: Yeah. The time frame on that is it depends on the dogs. Most of the time, when we say work, they love this. I mean, they actually love going to work. It's not work to them. It's fun. But what we do is we watch, we evaluate that with the veterinarians. We evaluate that with the dog. Do they still like it? Do they still want to do it?

I talked about Ozzie. Ozzie used to go and ride in the truck with me and not do jobs because he felt left out. He just got to go ride. But he didn't do the job. The dogs are generally between 1 and three when we get them, when we start. Five to seven years is about – not the age of the working time. But about 10. You're going to get between five and seven years of work time out of the dog. We just haven't seen any – whether it's termite, or bed bugs, or mold. The health, it's just flatline. We're not seeing any issues on that. And we're able to work the dog as long as they want to and as long as they're healthy.

Because we get a lot of rescue dogs. We get purebreds. We get mutts. Sometimes the dog just – their hips might go bad just because of age. They're eight or nine and they had congenerate problems with their hips because it's a mix or a purebred for that matter and they can't work. And so, we certainly don't make them. If the dog doesn't want to do it, they might – if it was after two years, we just don't push it. But that doesn't happen because the dogs we pick are the kind of the troublemakers and the dogs that are full of energy. They need a job. They want the job to do.

[00:13:34] SCOTT: You mentioned that the veterinarians, even some human doctors have contributed to supporting the health of the dogs, to detoxification. Wondering what that looks like. Do we, in dogs, use binders like charcoal? Do we use glutathione? Do we use antifungals? And it sounds like that the need for the detoxification program is not necessarily tied to the fact that they might be getting mold exposed but just trying to optimize their health and make them as healthy as possible. Am I understanding correctly?

[00:14:09] BILL: Yes. Yes. We don't show the signs like we do with the humans, with me. But we do it as kind of a hedging our bet. And all of the above that you mentioned, we work with the doctors and we use those methods to hedge our bet if you will.

But years ago, with the arson dogs, we didn't do any of that. We didn't know any of that. And we still didn't show any signs of the dogs having issues. But we're just kind of doing that to hedge our bet and making sure and giving them the extra….

But, again, we hear this sometimes, not a lot, that people are concerned. But 90%, probably 99% of the houses I'm going into, they're spotless. But there's something coming up on an ERMI that they just can't find. Or something coming up on an air sample. Or something that is just affecting the person.

I don't mind air samples. I don't mind ERMIs. But I ask the person, "How do you feel? How are you feeling right now?" "Well, I still – I feel like I'm over that edge." Well, then that's where we come in and that's how we shine. We'll come in and find that last little bit.

And I might be at the house an hour and a half. The dog's only in there about 20 minutes. The dog part is very quick. In fact, people say that. They're like, "Wow. That was really fast. The dogs are fast." It's no-nonsense. They come in and search and they're done. And they're sitting in the air-conditioned car listening to the radio and I'm still back in the house figuring things out. But I used to joke and say they're in the car watching Lassie. But not everybody knows who Lassie is anymore.

Yeah. The dogs are there very, very minor amount of time. And the houses – like I said, the houses we go into, they're just – you often wonder, "Well, am I going to find something in here or not?" Because there's nothing visible usually when we get there. Because all that's been exhausted by other inspectors, and other remediators, and stuff. Because if somebody sees mold, they have it taken care of before they call me. They're looking for the little tiny thing that they haven't found.

Now I do recommend people to give us a call from the beginning because we can help you point out everything and take care of it at one time. But most of our customers have already had a lot of stuff done.

[00:16:27] SCOTT: Are there any additional comments that you can share on how the dogs are supported from a detoxification perspective with their veterinarians? Is it similar to how we support ourselves? Or is it completely different in supporting canine health?

[00:16:42] BILL: Yeah. It's almost identical to human. Yeah. What works on the human works on the dog. And that's what we're doing. And not every vet, just like not every doctor knows about mold. There is an educational curve for the veterinarian. I've found them to be very interested even more so than regular doctors accepted to that, and wanting to help them, and wanting to go the extra mile. Yeah, it's identical to the humans.

[00:17:14] SCOTT: Let's talk a little bit about how you identify a dog to become part of your training program. Are certain breeds better at being able to detect mold than others? It sounds like when they're coming into the program, they're somewhere in that one to three years age range. And then talk to us a little bit about how the dogs are trained to alert in the presence of mold. What is that process? How long does it last? How much exposure is the dog getting during the training process?

[00:17:44] BILL: Obviously, we tell people, "The smoosh-nosed dogs won't work." Like a pug, or a bulldog, or something like that. Because their noses are shorter. We stay away from them. It can be just about any breed or any mixed breed. We like mutts. We don't mind that at all. But we're looking – the dog can't be – it can't be skittish at all. It has to be friendly. Being afraid is probably the biggest common thing that knocks a dog out of the program.

I tell people, "You got to be able to go to Home Depot or Lowe's. And when that sliding glass door opens up, the dog can't be afraid." They have to be a strong dog that's not afraid. That is willing, is curious.

We tend to like the dogs that are a little bit more of a troublemaker. Always getting into things constantly. They're tearing up something or – that means they need a job. They need something. They need a focus. And it might be that that person just starts doing agility. Or does flyball? Or some kind of agility thing, or shows, or whatever. Something to keep them busy. But for us, it's working for scent detection. Okay?

And it takes between two to three months, the training. The initial training is obviously imprinting them on the odor and then training them various different levels of it. The amount of exposure again is small, small, small amounts. Parts per trillion is all they need. It's very, very minute amounts. And we're teaching them to – when they find that, they alert to us. Most of the time, it's a sit. Sometimes – we don't really do – like with drug dogs where they do a scratch or a paw, we don't do that. Because we don't want to tear up people's houses.

Most of the time, our alert is a sit. It's a passive alert like a bomb dog. We have them sit and then will point with their nose, so I'll know if it's in the wall. I'll know if it's in the ceiling. I know if it's in the floor. Or maybe all three. And we can identify those areas.

But, essentially, the program is just like when we do a bomb dog, or a drug dog, or an arson dog, or a bed bug dog for that matter. And we're teaching them a certain odor. They learn that those odors for whichever do job they're doing. And they're imprinted on that. We use very, very small amounts. And the training is between two to three months and we have the dog. And then we bring the handler in and we train them. And that's a 40-hour class. And we teach them as a team.

Because even a handler that's trained can't just take a certain dog and work it. You have to kind of be married to that dog and that team. You have to know what to expect with that dog. Because the dog has to know you and you have to know that dog. Because each dog has their own personalities just like us.

[00:20:37] SCOTT: And my understanding is that once the training process is complete, that's not the end of your involvement with the handler, with the owner, with the dog. That there's a continued recertification that you're still very much involved helping to keep the dog calibrated. Talk to us a little bit about your ongoing involvement in any of the mold dogs actively working that were trained by you.

[00:21:01] BILL: And that's important. And the reason why that's important is because mold dogs have been around for years. And they were out there in the past. And the people would get the dog and then leave and I'd never see him again. And that's not what happens in the canine world.

In law enforcement, you're involved with that dog on a regular basis and making sure they're staying – the handlers training, they're working together and they keep their performance level up. What we're doing is on a quarterly – what I'm doing is quarterly, that dog, at least quarterly, has to meet with me. And we can do that through Skype. Because I have dogs in France and Germany, Switzerland, 16 different countries around the world. And my daughters told me, "Well, dad you got to get – you have to become – get into this century and start to learn how to get on the internet."

And I can train with the dog in Paris. And then an hour later, be in Japan and train with that dog. We're requiring them that, quarterly, we do a testing. And we meet with them and we go through a set of training session and make sure that that person's been training. The dog is up. The person's been up. That's real important. Because if they don't train, they can lose their skills. Not necessarily the dog, but the handler, the team. If you start doing something wrong long enough, it develops into a big problem.

And by meeting with them quarterly, we're able to make sure that they're staying in training. We do every quarter. And, annually, we're recertifying them. That way we know the team is doing good and that person's been practicing. That person is staying up on their training. And the skills and the level of accuracy is there. We're doing it quarterly with an annual recertification.

[00:22:53] SCOTT: How many different types of mold is a mold dog able to detect? Is there a list of the molds that dogs are able to sense? And then are these toxigenic molds or are these allergenic molds, are they a combination of both? Are there any molds maybe that are considered unsafe for humans that the dog may be unable to detect? For example, with an ERMI, fusarium is one of the molds that's not included but is very relevant in the mold illness conversation. Or are there any molds that maybe the dog might detect but that are considered safe for humans and unlikely to create any chronic illness?

[00:23:34] BILL: Yeah. And that's a great question. No. The dogs are trained on 16 different genuses. They're all the genuses that can be tested through the air samples. They are considered – all considered toxic to the human. The dogs can do – also do – we do the mycotoxins like in the furniture and things like that. In cars, vehicles.

But there's 16 different genuses. And in those genuses, there's literally thousands. Because Aspergillus has 960 different types. They're in there. But the genus, I like to tell people, is a fancy word for family. They're going to detect all the molds in that family. They're all the ones that we're concerned about and that are considered toxic and are a problem. And that's what we train on. And that's what we maintain the dogs on.

[00:24:23] SCOTT: Then we would not expect to have the dog alert because they sensed a mold that may not be potentially capable of creating a chronic illness in a human. If they sense something and alert to something, that likely is a potential contributor to someone's health condition.

[00:24:40] BILL: Right. What I tell people is, "Look, if –" because this is always growing. If they come up with a 17th genus or that's affecting people, we can add that to the dog. It's pretty easy. Something we can do. And that's what we monitor. We're monitoring – we have COVID dogs. And I have three of the COVID dogs here in Florida. We have 10. And if there's a – God forbid, if there's another form of COVID or something like COVID that happens, within a week, we can have those dogs that are trained on that. We can add that new odor to them so we can be up and running.

As things go along with the mold dogs, if there's something new comes along out there. Maybe new is not a great word. But something we discover that now is, we find this new mold or new genus. We can add that. We're working with the scientists to make sure we're up to date on that kind of stuff. And that's what we're looking at.

[00:25:43] SCOTT: You mentioned mycotoxins a moment ago. Is the dog primarily sensing mold? Is the dog also sensing mycotoxins? Does the mold spore have to be alive or active? Or can it be sensed if it's dormant and what about the scenario where there may be mold fragments as well? Is the dog able to detect all of those potential forms of a specific type of mold?

[00:26:07] BILL: The mycotoxins, what we're doing is – to address that, we're looking for – because the dog's always looking for a source. Because a lot of people say, "Well, mold's everywhere. How's the dog –" well, just like when you had – marijuana is not illegal anymore. But when it was, a drug dog, if you came in a room and smoked marijuana in the living room, and then went in the kitchen, and then left, a drug dog would come in, they would smell marijuana but they would not alert because the marijuana is no longer there.

The same with the mold dog. The dog's looking for the source. With the mycotoxins, we're looking for like a group of it. If a couch has been in an area that's been moldy so long, where there's a bunch of mycotoxins in it, the dog can tell you that. If it's something that's really, really small, we don't want them to tell us that. It's viable or nonviable. Okay? Alive or – and it's not dead. Dormant, dry if you will. Keeping it simple for me.

Infrared is not going to pick up dormant or nonviable mold. Because it's not wet. That's what the infrared is picking up on. But it's still sporing and it's very dangerous for us as humans at that point. The dog will still alert. They'll do viable and nonviable, wet or dry. They'll pick up both. And that's important. Because if you buy a house that had a roof leak 10 years ago, they put a new roof on the house, it's no longer leaking. But there was mold there. The dog's going to be able to tell you that. And moisture meter, infrared, they're not going to be able to. That's where the dog comes in handy when that happens.

[00:27:44] SCOTT: In the past several years, Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker has educated us more on Actinomycetes or actinobacteria on endotoxins. That mold and mycotoxins maybe a smaller part of the puzzle in what we call chronic inflammatory response syndrome. That bacteria and endotoxins may actually be a fairly significant part of that conversation. We know that some people may actually look very good from an ERMI perspective. The home may have no significant mold or mycotoxins. But the driver of that patient's illness could be the actinomycetes, the endotoxins. Are mold dogs able to detect these potential environmental contributors as well?

[00:28:26] BILL: Yeah. We're working on that right now. And from what we've seen, the endotoxins, the dogs are picking that up. A lot of the things – when the researchers say, "Without grant money, we're never going to be able to know exactly." But what we're using is field studies and seeing what the dogs are picking up, and what is being tested, and what's finding. So far, we are seeing that the dogs are picking up the endotoxins. And we're working on that right now and going to add that so we can definitely say, yes, they are. But what we're finding in the field is they are picking that up. That's something that's really new. Yeah.

[00:29:04] SCOTT: The endotoxin piece sounds like that's pretty far along. How about the Actinobacteria? Is that one you're working on adding as well?

[00:29:11] BILL: We're working on that too. But we don't have the data or the field research, if you will, yet enough to be able to say that. Because this is new. And this is all developing. And maybe they won't and maybe they will. I'm very confident. If there's an odor, the dogs can pick it up. It's just going to be a matter of being able to identify the odor and adding that to the dog's repertoire.

There's very few things that they've found. And when I say they, the researchers, that the dogs can't detect and can't find. It's a matter of just adding that. And also, making sure that that's something that we want to add. Maybe we don't. Maybe we do. At this point, it's still out there a little bit.

The endotoxin has been a little bit longer. That's why we've got the data for that. But we're constantly involved in this. And maybe they will and maybe they won't. And if they can't, they can't. It's just what we're doing is what we're doing.

And I always tell people, "Look, the dog –" this is important. Because when I – I've been doing this a long time. And I do an inspection. And I give a lot of data afterwards. But sometimes maybe the new handlers can't give all that data because they don't have the field experience that I do. But I tell people, "Look, the dog is just part of the chain. Okay?" It's like the dog gives you an area. Now it becomes archaeology. And you need to dig and find out what's there. Okay?

We never want to make the dog too good. In other words, it's not God. The dog's just giving you a piece of the puzzle to look at. And use ERMIs. Use air samples. Get a good inspector. And make sure – figure out is the roof leaking? Or is that log cabin have an issue because it's specific to log cabins? Or does that house have a problem because it's something to do with the construction in that area that you're having? But the dog gives you that area to look at and figure out what's going on in that area. It becomes archeology then is what I say.

[00:31:18] SCOTT: Tell us a little bit about the experience of having a mold dog visit your home. What's the process? What would someone see if they're observing a mold dog inspection in their home?

[00:31:29] BILL: Yeah. Well, obviously, the first thing we want to do is come in and meet the person and do a visual inspection. Once we do the visual inspection, we want to then bring in the dog. And with that visual inspection, we're making sure that their pets are safe and secure in a different room and not loose.

We're making sure there's not a three-legged table with a vase on it that I might break. Usually, Sarge is pretty graceful. But I'm very klutzy. We want to make sure that we're not going to break that. We also want to make sure we're looking for safety. Does that person have some kind of a pest control out? Or sometimes in basements, we'll find mice traps, or something, or little glue boards, or something. And I want to make sure I don't get my dog's nose stuck in that. We're looking for those kinds of things we're doing our visuals, safety for the dog, safety for me.

And then we bring the dog in and do a systematic search. The dogs should not be loose, running around, things like that. With the mold dogs, we want to do a very systematic search. We go clockwise the same as we do with arson dogs. We want to make sure we cover everything. Off-leash is not the way to do this. Dogs can be trained off-lease to do searches. And that's fine for other things like drug searches and stuff like that. But for mold, you want these dogs to be on a leash and you want a very systematic search.

We'd never take our dog in the attic. We don't need to. We can tell if it's – if it's in the attic, we're going to be able to tell you from the floor. We can go to attic access and do a sniff there and stuff. Now that doesn't mean if we have a stairway we can walk up and the attic has got a complete floor, we can certainly do that. But we don't want dogs trying to balance and falling through attics and getting hurt.

And there are people that have done that out there. And, hopefully, that's not one of my dogs. But you got to make sure – you don't want the dog getting hurt. And you don't need to go up there. But a very systematic search, right to left. Searching the furniture, the floors, the walls, the windows, everything. My dogs indicate by sitting and then pointing. And so, you might have them point up. You might have them point to the wall or the floor. It might be all three. If they had a roof leak and it's coming down the wall, it's going to make sense the mold is up high. It's also in the wall and it's also on the floor.

If you have carpet that's – the other day, I went in a house and they were – the carpet was 18 years old and they were surprised that it was bad. And it's 18-year-old carpet. It's bad. And, yeah, you got to get rid of it. Carpet is not great to begin with when you have mold problems. But you certainly don't want that old of a carpet in there.

[00:34:10] SCOTT: In a scenario in a scenario like that with the carpet then, is that going to be something that makes it difficult for the dog to then sense other places in that environment because the entire carpet is an issue and you ideally want to pull that carpet out first? Or not necessarily?

[00:34:27] BILL: No. And that's a great question. And you would think that. But it's not. The only thing that it does is the dog kind of milks it a little bit. Sarge was over and he's like, "Hey, there's mold in this window. Oh, and there's some in the carpet. I want two treats." The dog will try to get an extra treat because it's right here in the window and it's also here.

But, no. It doesn't really bother them. Because they're able to say it's here and here. We don't have to come back. We can definitely do that. But he definitely wants extra treats when it's like that.

[00:35:00] SCOTT: Let's talk a little more then about what the limitations might be. What they can sense? We know very commonly, as you said earlier, mold is not visible. It's often behind the wall. Is the dog able to sense through a wall? If the issue is high above them, let's say a 20-foot ceiling. You talked briefly about attics. What about crawl spaces? Maybe in an HVAC system, or the ductwork, or in a drainpipe. What are some of the limitations in a building where the mold dog may not be able to detect a problem?

[00:35:32] BILL: That's a great question. And that's probably one of the number one questions when people come. Well, if it's up high, how is the dog going to know? And I always jokingly say, "Well, if the dog couldn't find mold in the ceiling, I'd be a drug dealer and I just hide my drugs in the attic and I'd be safe." And I'm joking.

But odor is heavier in air and it falls down. The dog's going to be able to tell you that. If it's a 20-foot ceiling – or I've been in a hospital where it was a 30-foot ceiling and the dog's able to tell. They're going to smell it on the ground and then sniff up and you're going to know. That's where being a good handler is and you're watching the dog.

But probably the number one question is, is if it's in the ceilings, how's the dog going to know? But just the same way it affects you. If it's in the ceiling, it's falling down and the spores are falling down and bothering you, the same way the dog does. Same way a hunting dog can tell you the raccoon is in the tree because he's sniffing and he can tell. And he sniffs up and he barks. And the raccoon up there and you know there it is. They're able to do that.

Crawl spaces, a lot of times we can tell inside the house because in the crawl space. A lot of times it's in the floor joists or the insulation that might be there, especially if it's not encapsulated and dehumidified. I always jokingly say crawl spaces are all the problems of a basement with none of the benefits.

Yeah, the dog usually can know. And if not, we do go to the crawl space. Usually, there's a hatch or openings underneath. And we check those from the …. And the only difference would be, for a crawl space, we might say it's in the crawl space. I can't tell you exactly where. You got to – again, it becomes archaeology. Your crawl space is a problem. Now you have to get an expert under there that's going to – they're going to dehu it or they're going to encapsulate it. They're going to clean it. Clean it, encapsulate it. Put a dehumidifier in there. And probably pull out all the insulation. That's a bigger problem. But the dog can just tell you it's an issue. And we can tell by the way they alert. Because if it's a big problem, they're more excited than if it's a little problem. We can give them clues. But they're going to have to have somebody, an expert now go down there and tell you more.

[00:37:49] SCOTT: Do you have cases where the dog might alert on a component of an HVAC system? Maybe on a specific duct? Maybe related to a drainpipe, for example? Is that something the dogs are detecting as well?

[00:38:03] BILL: Yeah. If we can get to the – obviously, a single duct they can alert to. They can alert to multiple ducts. Kind of tells you there's a problem with the unit. We like it to be turned on while we're there and the dogs can smell that. If we can get to the actual air handler, it's nice. If we can't, if it's in the attic or something like that, that makes it harder to diagnose. Is it the ducts, or the unit, or both?

Probably the biggest thing with AC units, and it's a pet peeve of mine, is so many houses, the plenum is made out of wood and drywall. And that's a point where it's not if. It's when. The plenum should be – they call it a coffin. It should be made out of metal. Units have that. When you buy the unit, they have a number next to it that has a plenum for it. But so many places, especially builders, they don't do that. because that plenum is probably 500 bucks, 600 bucks. They can build it out of $20 worth of scrap wood and drywall and set it on. That's your plenum.

And within three or four years, that's going to get wet with condensation and it's going to have mold in it. And you're breathing it. We find that a lot. That's probably a huge thing. And believe it or not, huge things that's missed. I've had people come in and change the AC unit out and put new ducts in and all this stuff and the AC guy set it right back down in the same box made out of wooden drywall. And the box is horrible. What are you thinking when you do that? That's a big, big thing we find a lot of times is what the plenum is made out of and what the unit's actually sitting on.

[00:39:40] SCOTT: When you maybe have a scenario where components of the HVAC system are in the attic, for example. The dog can't always get to it. Are there scenarios where someone may take a swab or take a sample and then put that in the environment where the dog is able to potentially then give us a yes or no?

[00:39:59] BILL: Yeah. We can do that. But most of the time, we can figure it out even without doing that. Because what I tell people, usually, and I'm making an educated guess, if the dog alerts to one or two air ducts in the house, yeah, it's probably dirty. If he alerts to all of them or most of them, the unit itself is dirty and we need to take a look. If the unit's dirty, what is it sitting on? What's going on there?

I myself had a personal experience where my air handler was in the attic. And I don't like them up there. I took mine down and put it in a closet. It's in air-conditioned space. It's much more efficient. I can look at it. I can see it. I can make sure it's clean and not wet. But a lot of times when they're in the attic like that, they've leaked and there's mold around the unit. And it's still taking that in. And that's why maybe your ducts aren't – they may not have to be replaced. But in and around the unit itself has to be fixed. And that's very common.

And that happened to me with my experience that I had to take it out of the attic and actually put it in the closet. Because where it was in the attic, it had been leaking causing all kinds of problems. And I was breathing that in my own home.

[00:41:13] SCOTT: You know you mentioned dehumidifiers. How often does a dog signal at a dehumidifier? Are dehumidifiers a common problem that dogs are alerting to? And are there specific type of dehumidifiers or brands that don't seem to have mold problems on a regular basis?

[00:41:30] BILL: Yeah. Well, what I say with that is clean, clean, clean. clean. And I'm not saying – because dehumidifiers, portable ones especially, it's common that they alert to it. And people tell me, "Oh, I've never cleaned that." They don't know that you're supposed to clean that. And that's the biggest thing we find is they – especially portable ones, the dog alert to it and they say, "Well, what do I do? Throw it away?" Well, no. You got to evaluate it. I mean, probably just need to clean it. And then that's usually when we hear, "Oh, I didn't know you were supposed to clean them." And who tells you that? You don't know.

But, yeah, they're a common source. They need to be cleaned. They're great. Dehumidifiers are great. We need them. But they can – usually the bigger units are professionally installed and stuff like that. Then they're going to clean it once a year, or every couple years, or whatever. But the portable ones need to be cleaned. I tell people at least twice a year, clean it. Take it apart. Clean it. Wipe it down and then put it back together and continue using it.

[00:42:37] SCOTT: What if the mold is behind an appliance? Does the appliance need to potentially be pulled out like a refrigerator, for example? Will that help to maximize the potential of finding a problem? Could we have mold behind a fridge or under a dishwasher? Or maybe even behind a tub or shower that we might be missing if we're not somehow giving better access to that area?

[00:42:59] BILL: Yeah. Tubs and showers are one of the big things that dogs finds that your average inspector, he can't. He's not Superman or she's not Superwoman. You can't see behind there. The dogs can smell behind there. It's not that they're smelling through the wall. It's actually coming through the wall, the mold is. That's why it's affecting you. And that's how they can detect it.

As far as refrigerators, that's a huge thing you touch on, and dishwashers, things like that. Dishwashers usually from leaks. Refrigerators, what I've noticed is the trend is now that they're so – they're boxing them in so tight to make it look like a cabinet. And what happens is that refrigerators run and the fan and condensation builds up in that. And I'm telling people now twice a year. First thing I tell them is know where your water shut-off valve is. Because when you pull out that refrigerator and you break that ice line, that's not the time to try to figure out where you're shut-off valve is. And you need to know where it's at ahead of time. Shut the water off. Go ahead and pull the refrigerator out. Vacuum behind there. Look for any leaks, any spots, any mold. And then put it back. I encourage them to do that, my mold people I call them. My mold daughter. My mold wife. You have to be sensitive you have to be careful. You want to do that a couple times a year. Especially in these new kitchens where this refrigerator is so tight. There's no room at all, whatsoever, for these things, for air to breathe.

And it looks. Beautiful but it's not necessarily great for the unit itself. And it develops heat back there and condensation. And that's an issue.

If it's like that, you're going to want to shut off your water. Roll that thing out. It's pretty easy. Roll it out. Vacuum behind it. Clean behind it. Look for any mold. Visible mold. Obviously, molds are microscopic. But you're looking for visible mold. Any signs of water. Anything like that. But, yeah, we're finding that a lot in newer kitchens. The dogs alerting. They're a couple years old and he's alerting to the refrigerator. And they pull it out and they're finding mold back there. Usually, it's not a huge problem. But most of the people we deal with are sensitive. And a little bit is a lot.

[00:45:10] SCOTT: Talk to us a little bit more about the shower and tub situation. If it's behind tile, for example, is that something that could be missed? Or is that an area the dogs are pretty good at being able to sense?

[00:45:20] BILL: Actually, the dogs are really good at that. And not bragging. But that's one of the nice things. And I tell people, it's not missed by the human inspector. Because you can't see it. So, you're not missing it. You can't visually tell. The dog can smell behind it for a lack of better words. He's smelling – because odor coming through.

And showers, especially master showers. Tubs usually last long. The tub not bad. But the tub last longer and less – the biggest thing I tell people is you want to re-caulk your tub and your showers every couple of years. Especially with children. Kids like to play in water. They're having a fun time. They're taking a bath. You want to caulk all that around the tub. All the way down all on the floor. And keep that caulked and change it out.

I go there and all the grout is cracked and gone. And all the way around the tub. All the way up the wall. And all the way on the floor. And then they're usually surprised that there's mold in there. And it's been getting wet for three years. And, yeah, it's an expensive problem.

That's why I tell people kitchen sinks, make sure, as far as your arms will stretch, there's good caulk behind that sink. Because we splash. And a lot of times these newer sinks, in bathrooms, the fancy ones I call them, they're beautiful but they're not real easy to wash your hands on. And you get more water everywhere. You got to make sure those are really caulked really good. But master showers, the dogs are really good. The tubs, they're re really good at. And it's just be – and like I said, the humans aren't missing it. They just can't see it. It's behind the tile. And that's where the dog's sniffing for.

[00:47:01] SCOTT: Probably one of the biggest mistakes I made in the home that I'm currently in is letting them use small tile for the surround in the shower and bathtubs. And the amount of grout and caulking that has to be maintained there is pretty significant. I would definitely make a different decision if I were doing that again.

[00:47:21] BILL: I love the small tile. But, yeah. From mold-wise it's – you want that small tile in a bathroom you don't use very often.

[00:47:29] SCOTT: Exactly.

[00:47:29] BILL: Not the one you're using every day. Yeah. For sure.

[00:47:32] SCOTT: Let's talk a little bit about how sensitive the mold dogs can be. If someone, for example, comes into your home, they're wearing clothing that maybe had mold from another environment. Maybe they came from their house. They lean up against a wall. Is that potentially going to trigger the mold dog to alert because of that cross-contamination? What if the dog alerts on a wall but the issue is really small? Maybe as small as a centimeter.

I know on your website you say the dog can alert to an amount smaller than a baby's teardrop. Is the dog able to – it sounds like yes. Because we touched on this a little. Is the dog able to convey the severity or approximate size of the issue identified? Or is any alert justification for opening up a wall with proper containment, of course, to further explore a potential issue?

[00:48:23] BILL: Obviously, we like to leave that up to the homeowner as far as if they're going to open it up. But we certainly give our opinions. As far as the clothing touching a wall, I doubt the dog would alert to that. If it would, it'd be very minor. The dogs can tell if it's on clothes. We regularly – the frontload washing machines, the dog will alert to the unit itself. And I have had the dog alert to a pile of clothes that were there that they had just washed. That is possible.

As far as the amount – here's a couple ways we do it. I tell people if a wall is 20-feet long and the dog alerts every foot down the wall, that's a lot. That's an easy way to determine. But the way to explain is kind of if the dog sniffs, and sits, and I say, "Show me." He kind of goes “Ehhhhh” or if he goes, "Whoa. Dad. That’s a lot." We have to judge the dog on that. And then we give that information to the homeowner and we let them know.

And I've been doing this a long time. Some of the newer handlers, they may not be able to do that until they get to that level or may not want to. I'm usually pretty good. And I tell people, like sliding glass doors. We have a lot of those in Florida. Everybody has sliding glass doors that go outside. And those tracks are never cleaned. And the dog will alert to them. And the people are like, "Oh, no." And I can tell them, I'm like, "Nope. All you need to do is clean that. You can use EC3. You can use white vinegar. You can use hydrogen peroxide, a microbial solution. And you need to clean that." And they're like, "Oh, we've never done that." And the house might be 20 years old, 30 years old. But that's something you're going to want to do at least once a year. Opposed to alerting to the wall and the dog's like boom. Or a master shower.

And we make some educated guesses. If a master shower is 14 years old, it's probably bad. And I just tell them straight up it's bad. If it's 2 years old, well, we're going to have to watch it. Unless – unfortunately, in Florida, everybody's wanting to move to Florida the last couple of years after COVID and they're building houses so fast so poorly and doing such a bad job. I went to a house the other day, it was 2 and a half years old. And two of the three bathtubs and/or shower were already bad.

And one of them you could visually see mold in it. Okay? After 2 and a half years, it's horrible. It's just improper insulation. They did it wrong. And people are – they're stunned because they have a two-and-a-half-year-old shower, it's probably going to cost them 15 grand to redo. But you're having a mold issue and that's your problem.

A lot of times, just taking a look at what you have. How's the house? How's the shower you're looking at? You can look at the job and look and see, "Was it a good job? Was it not?" A lot of times I hear on these newer houses people say, "Oh, yeah. I had the builder come back because it was leaking and we were getting black mold. And they re-grouted it. And all they did was cover it up." They should have torn it apart and redid it then. All they did was buy some time really. But, yeah. But the dogs, in telling you whether it's a lot or a little bit is reading the dog. And you learn that pretty quickly with the dog. And it's just their reaction.

[00:51:51] SCOTT: What is the depth of the dog's sniff? If the dog alerts on a wall that let's say is below a basement window, could they be detecting rotten leaves outdoors that might have mold? Or maybe let's say an interior wall master bedroom but has a deck on the other side of the wall? Could they be smelling rotten, moldy wood outdoors on that deck that maybe isn't impacting the health of the internal environment?

[00:52:21] BILL: Well, I would say on that kind of scenario, if he is smelling the outside, there's something wrong with that wall and it is a problem. Meaning – I would say probably no. but if they were detecting that, that would mean that wall is not built right. There's maybe not the flashing. Maybe not the vapor barrier. But, usually, no. If it's on the outside, then they're not going to. But I have had issues where they open up the wall and there's no vapor barrier there. Yeah, they might have been smelling that. But the inside of the wall is also bad because it's been leaking.

Usually, we can take a look at it. That's why after the dog works, we mark the areas with blue painter's tape and then we put the dog away. And then I come back inside and me and you talk and we take – of course, we're going to look outside. We're going to say, "Well, that's there. Why is it – it be inside?" That kind of thing. But I would say, generally, no. Unless there's some kind of additional problems with that wall and that's why we're smelling it inside.

[00:53:28] SCOTT: It sounds like the likelihood of this next question being true is probably relatively small. But you mentioned that they can detect parts per trillion. Could there be a scenario where the amount of mold present is enough to make a very sensitive occupant sick but not enough for the dog to detect or alert on?

[00:53:52] BILL: Anything's possible. But they're pretty sensitive. And, obviously, we're looking for – the dog is looking for a source. And they're not 100%. Nothing is. But I would say most – I'm pretty cocky. When I come in there, we're going to be able to tell you when we leave. I mean, because the dogs are just – they're very sensitive. And I know how sensitive people can be. But like I said, I've had my dog pick it up where the washing machine is bad. And they're wearing the clothes they just washed and the dog alerted to the pile of clothes that were just washed and dried. They're moldy. And that's how bad those frontload washers can be, the seal, unfortunately. And a lot of people know to leave the door open but they don't know to leave that tray open on the top where they put the soap. You want to leave that open as well. Preferably, you want a top load, no agitator. But if you don't have that, you want to leave both of those open.

[00:54:50] SCOTT: What are some potential explanations for false negatives? In other words, there is mold but the dog may not alert. Or false positives. There's no mold but the dog alerts and a source is never found. Could the fact that the dog gets a treat when the alert lead to more false positives? Might the dog say, "Hey, I just want to treat." And what would you say is the sensitivity or accuracy of using mold dogs? I've heard some people say 95%, 98%. But then I've also talked to people in the community that suggested that the mold dog was unable to find a mold that they later uncovered through other means.

[00:55:30] BILL: Sure. And nothing's 100%. What we keep is data. My dogs are in the 90 percentile. The dogs have been tested. They know they can do it in the 90%. The research that's been done on – that was done on dogs that were food reward versus play reward. And they found that the play reward was slightly higher. That they would lie more for the toy than they would for the food. But it was within the margin of error.

What we do is that's something that's really easy that we train for. That's why it's important for me to see the dog on a quarterly basis. The team. I shouldn't even say the dog. That's why I want to see the dog to make sure that that's not happened. That's one of the things we're making sure is not happening.

Missing it. Most of the time, I want to say if I've missed something, most of the time the blame is on the handler. It was my fault. And what I mean by that is when I searched a certain area, I turned, and moved, and pulled the dog away. Most of the time, it's the handler's fault. We missed it. Okay. But it was my fault more so than the dog. The dog could miss it. That's another reason why we want to see the dog on a regular basis, on a quarterly basis, and make sure we're testing that dog. Doing blind searches and things like that.

As far as false negative for the treat, again, that's something that we catch in the training part. And the dogs learn really quickly that if I lie – we train to the point where the dog always thinks I know. I go in your house first. He thinks I may have hid something or I might not have hid something. And if I lie, I'm going to get yelled at. We don't punish the dogs. But, definitely, I'll shame him. I'd be like, "Sarge." And he's like, "Oh." He doesn't want that.

It's easier for him – here's what we do. If I search your house and he finds no mold, he still gets a treat and a good boy. If I search your house and he finds mold, he gets a treat and a good boy. It's a win-win situation for him.

But listen, nothing's 100%. And, yeah, we can miss it. And I'm sure I've missed stuff. And, usually, I would say it's probably for something that I did, the handler did. But nothing out there is accurate as the dog. That's, of course, tooting my own horn. But it can happen. We can miss something.

I tell people, I don't do the Michael Jackson moonwalk. Okay? I'll fess up to it. Okay. We missed it. That happens. Usually, it's my fault. And I'll give you a scenario. Their pet has a dog bed. And I don't want my dog – I don't want sarge to get on it or sniff it because I want to make sure he's a boy dog. And I want to make sure that he's not going to pee on it and claim it to be his. I might pull him away from that area.

And shame on me because I didn't really check that area because I was afraid he was going to pee on that dog bed. Before I can even get out, the person will say, "Do you want me to move that?" And I'm like, "Yes, I do." I usually don't have things moved. I don't like people to move furniture away from the walls because that makes it harder. I don't move the couch I don't need to. But pet beds and pet bowls, the food bowl and the water bowl, I have moved.

Because what I'm going to do as a handler, I'm going to keep away from it. And now I didn't check that wall good enough because I was worried about him peeing on it. Okay? Not that he does. But anything can happen. He's a boy dog. And if he's like, "That's my bed now." And then now we're both in trouble. That would be an easy place I could miss something. And it would be my fault. Not the dog's fault.

Now there are – you certainly could sniff something and the dog would be like – he just missed it. That can happen. Doesn't happen very often. And we're usually pretty thorough.

[00:59:33] SCOTT: You talked about potentially moving dog beds and dog bowls. Are there other things that should be done in the home prior to the arrival of the dog to prepare for the inspection? To minimize the chances of false negatives or false positives? I had talked to someone recently that suggested that they actually were doing some cleaning in their home prior to the arrival of the dog. Is that a common step that people would take? What are your thoughts on preparing for the inspection?

[01:00:01] BILL: Yeah. I tell people, "Look, you don't need to clean." You imagine me telling a drug dealer, "Hey, clean your house. Don't cook. Pick up your stuff." He's going to go, "No." You don't really need to.

I would say, for me, stuffed toys, dog beds, and water bowls, you can do. I certainly don't need you to clean. It's not going to matter one way or the other. It doesn't matter. People are like, "Oh, I need to clean my house." No. You don't have to. It's not going to matter. People ask, "Should I turn off the air conditioning? Should I turn off my air purifiers?" No. It's not going to matter. It's not going to affect the dog.

But I do like the dog beds and/or dog toys. But I don't tell people to do that. Because I can work around it. And like I said, and if a dog bed is in the master bedroom and it's covered, there's a window and a nightstand in the bed right there, I will tell them then, "Yeah, go ahead and move that." Because I want to be able to get to that window and make sure I don't screw up and not let him sniff something.

[01:01:04] SCOTT: One of the fairly common scenarios in people with mold illness is that we've moved from one sick environment to another environment, sometimes, unfortunately, to another sick environment. Been through three or four different places. Belongings then potentially are a source of contamination of mold. We talk about what can we bring? What can we not bring? How often do you find that a home itself is not the problem? But that the environment was cross-contaminated from personal belongings? Whether that's a mattress, or a couch, or other porous materials that were brought into the home from an environment that did have mold issues in the past?

[01:01:42] BILL: Yeah. And I hate the term cross-contamination. But I totally get what you're saying. And I have gone to a new place, and it was okay. But the stuff they brought. That's why I tell people, "Look, for what we charge –" and most doctors and stuff, they say throw everything away. And I get that. Because you don't know. You want to start at zero. But with a dog – bragging of course. With a dog, I can come in and tell you, "This, this, and this, and this is good. Your mattress is bad. Your couch is bad," or whatever. I can save you a lot of money and a lot of hassle throwing a lot of things away.

But I have definitely come into a new place where it was the furniture and not anything else. It's not all the time. But I have definitely – and the reason why I can say that is I recently just had it again. I had it happen again where they moved from a bad environment and some of their furniture was the only thing the dog alerted to.

And the reason why I say I don't like to cross-contamination is because mold is everywhere. Even if you bring nothing – the only time you can cross-contaminate, I think, is if you bring mold and you have a water leak. Like your kitchen sink is leaking. Now you're going to get mold there. But even if you didn't bring something, there's mold in the environment, so it's going to have mold in is why I don't like that term.

But I have definitely and recently had that happen again where the furniture was the problem. And it was actually the child's bed. And it was a couple other few things. But it was young girl and the bed that they had bought her was this beautiful bed with a big headboard and all the sideboards, all cloth, all padding, and the mattress, everything. And they brought it in the new house and the girl was still sick.

And I checked her room, and the dog didn't alert. And I checked her furniture, and the mom was like, "Oh, my God." Because she was just – like I moved into another bad house. The house wasn't bad. It was her bed. Her child's bed that was bad from the previous house. And there was some spillage from the kid and stuff like that too that happens.

Kids spill. Kids need to have hard surface furniture. Not materials and stuff. But it was actually the bed that this little girl was sleep – and the mattress too. It was a whole big, giant headboard. The side, it was all moldy. And that's why she was still sick even in her "brand-new house".

[01:04:25] SCOTT: And I've heard some people talk about even purchasing brand-new mattresses, or furniture, or whatnot. Maybe they didn't bring it from a prior home that had mold. But who knows how it was stored? Whether it arrives with mold even when it's brand-new.

[01:04:40] BILL: I'm so glad you said that. Because a lot of times, if it's from another country, it sat on a ship for six – it came on a boat for 6 months. Sat in port for a month. Got offloaded. Then went on a truck in a warehouse to another warehouse. And then you brought it home. Unfortunately, yeah, I found brand-new sofas or brand-new beds that were bad.

As local as you can buy is what you want to do. Because you don't know where that was stored. And I have had that happen where the people are upset because it's a brand-new couch. How can that be moldy? I'm like, "I kind of know. But brand-new doesn't mean it's not moldy." Yeah. Unfortunately.

[01:05:29] SCOTT: How often would you suspect that a dog might go into an average home and clear the home? Meaning they don't find any problematic areas. And in asking that question, I'm guessing there is some bias built in because you're likely not testing the homes of healthy people. Most of the people that are reaching out to you have some idea that maybe they have a mold component to their illness. Does a mold dog almost always find problems in a home? And how many problems might be identified on an average home inspection?

[01:06:01] BILL: Like you said, it's like a woman going to a baby doctor. She's probably pregnant. That's why she's going to a baby doctor. By the way, I'm going to be a grandpa. That's why I'm excited about that. Just found out.

Most of the time, we're being called to places where they think they have mold or they've had mold, they've done some remediation, whatever. But I do go to houses and clear the house. That happens. Probably, the better way to answer that is I go – lots of people, they have remediation done and then they'll have me come back and I clear the house. That's a good way to judge it and make sure that they're clear in the house.

But most of the time, we're going to places where people think there is mold. So, they want to – most of time, we do find stuff. But I have had people call me. They purchase a home. They're not sure. And I've gone in there and it's been clear.

[01:06:54] SCOTT: Let's say we go into an average client. Would a dog commonly find two places? 10 places? 50 places? What would kind of be the range of potential places the dog might alert?

[01:07:07] BILL: Usually, it's not as bad as people think. Usually, my biggest thing people call me, "We did an ERMI and it's horrible." And I tell them, "Okay. Well, don't panic. Because it's usually not as bad as you think." And it depends on the upkeep of the house really. But it's never as bad as they think. And averages a couple of places.

I would say, "Look, if your master shower is 10 years or older, it's probably bad." Okay? Just what I found. Doesn't mean it is. But if this master shower is 10 years or older, it's probably bad. Okay? But I'd say the average is probably two or three places. And out of that two or three, at least one of them is something that they can clean.

And I've been to a house, many houses, where we've done the whole house. And a lot of times the dog will alert to a windowsill. And it's actually not leaking. The windowsill itself is full of mold and the dog can tell that. It's something they can clean. I've done a house where it's alerted to almost every window and it's something that they can clean themselves and do.

[01:08:15] SCOTT: You mean like on the visual part of the windowsill? From condensation building up inside the window itself?

[01:08:21] BILL: Well, it's inside and some of it's outside, right? Where you lift up the window, it's right there. I mean, I find that all the time. And I tell people, you have to clean that. I'm not saying your house is dirty. But you got to clean that because it's full of mold. Dirt gets on there. Mold spores get on there. And then condensation. It's a little farm right there. And we see that a lot.

[01:08:43] SCOTT: Yeah. I do clean mine pretty regularly. And it's pretty amazing how disgusting those things can be.

[01:08:49] BILL: Yeah. And once people learn that, they're like, "I never thought of that." And they're like, "Yeah." But we go to houses all the time that I don't find something. But most of the time they're calling me because the ERMI is saying there's something here. Or the air samples are saying there's something here.

And I always tell people, "Look, husbands like the dog once we get there." Because what most husbands don't like about this is you're telling them the ERMIs terrible. The air samples are terrible. Your house is awful. Well, I go out there and say, "Well, you got a spot here, here, and here." Your house is not awful. You just have these things you need to fix it.

The husbands like the dog once they've gotten there because they realize we're going to tell them what's wrong and then they can fix it or have it fixed. We want to know what's wrong so we can fix it. We're fixers. By telling them what's wrong, then it's not a problem anymore.

[01:09:43] SCOTT: And are you most commonly doing inspections in homes? Or do people hire you as well to inspect their workplace or maybe even their children's school environment?

[01:09:54] BILL: Yeah. That happens. I tell people be careful with schools. Because I worked with a group of parents in Florida to a school. It was a newer school. And when the county finally said, "Yeah, you're right." And they closed the school, and divided the kids up, and made them go to bigger classes and other schools. The problem with schools is they don't have the money to fix the water problem. Much less the mold problem.

But I do businesses often. Usually, it's businesses that people own that have mold issues. Occasionally, I do hospitals. I'll do nursing homes, assisted livings, cancer centers, things like that as well. They're not as common. But we do that. I've done hospitals, surgery recovery areas, things like that where they need to know exactly where the problem is. And the dog can come in and help them identify that. Yeah.

[01:10:42] SCOTT: How do we use the findings of a mold dog inspection to provide direction either in terms of whether or not the next step is deep cleaning, small particulate cleaning, versus maybe a more significant remediation? Does the handler help to interpret the findings of the dog? Is that something we leave to the IEP? What is it that happens after you visit generally? What are the next steps?

[01:11:07] BILL: I'm a little bit more bolder than maybe some of the people are. They definitely should be giving you ideas what they think. I like to work with the IEP. That's best if I can be part of the team. It's going to be the homeowner, him, and me, or her. But I can them ideas of, "Okay, here's what I think. This is really strong. This is something we can clean. This is something you need to look at more closely and determine."

Obviously, there's moisture meters you can use. There's infrared they can use. There's a lot of different things they can use. I don't like when they do a camera in a hole. Because you can't see behind the board on the other side and stuff like that. Ultimately, it's up to the homeowner. But you're going to make a group decision. And you should be able to give your opinion, the handlers, as I do, as what you think. If this is something that's small. Something that's bigger.

I mean, the biggest thing is if you're sensitive, then you got to look at this and determine what do you need to do. Mold is microscopic. It's not always going to be visible. You just need to clean that area, open that area if that's what you want to do. I mean, they should be – handlers should be able to tell them whether, "Yeah, you need to go in there. Or I'm not sure at least." And then you make an evaluation. But work as a team and make sure that you're doing that.

[01:12:31] SCOTT: One of the experts that I've personally worked with in the mold arena is Jessica McQuade with Mold Mentor and MoldEase here locally in Colorado where I am where she is. She collaborates with one of your dogs, Buddy. And then as an IEP or indoor environmental professional, she then samples the areas where Buddy alerts. And I like this idea of this collaboration with the dog and the inspector. Wondering if that's something that you commonly see in the mold inspection arena. Do you advocate for a collaboration like that? Or does the mold dog, in some cases, entirely replace a good IEP or indoor environmental professional?

[01:13:10] BILL: No. Yeah. Absolutely not. I like to work as a team. I mean, I do that. I don't do that part anymore. I work with people that do that. I absolutely work with an IEP. Or some of my dog handlers are. I think it's a group effort. I don't ever think that the dog should be used alone. Certainly, that's up to the homeowner. But I like to work with people.

We work with an industrial hygienist. We work with IEP. We work with the remediators. I like everybody to kind of have their two cents. And because sometimes a remediator will figure out something that we didn't think of. The IEP can do some air samples or testing. Whatever they want to do.

Yeah, to clarify. Yeah. No. It's a team effort for sure. And that's what we preach. And I'm not backpedaling there. I think that's – because the best thing for the customer is what you want. And, yeah. I can't ever remember being the only person involved. Yeah, definitely. You want to work together.

Because the end game here is to figure out what's wrong and to fix it. And the only way to do that is to have a group of people involved. Yeah.

[01:14:26] SCOTT: Let's say you come out, identify some issues, collaborating with the IEP and the remediator. Some attempt is made to address the problem. How common is it then that someone has you come back out to see if in fact the dog might still find an issue that wasn't fully addressed versus no longer alerts on the problem? And then kind of extending on that, wondering if you at times participate in the remediation process as sort of a post-remediation verification, PRV, clearance test? Or is that better left to other sampling methods where we can get to a specific type of mold and a specific spore count?

[01:15:06] BILL: Yeah. We definitely are a part of that. Most of the people – and not the only thing. I like to do both. What a lot of the people do is they bring the dog out after the remediation but before they put it back together. And probably about the same time they're doing their post-tests. Because the nice thing about the dog is – and sometimes we do it first.

Because the nice thing about the dog is if I come in and the dog alerts you. I've been called out to a situation where they kept failing their post-tests. And they've done everything. They've clean, re-cleaned. We found a piece of wood that was about 3 inches long. The dog alerted to, sat, and pointed to. We remove that. They clean the area. They pass their test. Now four other times before that, they did not pass. That's all it was, was that little piece of wood. Okay?

The remediators like the dog. Because instead of cleaning everything over or redoing everything, they just were able to pick up that one piece. Take it out. Clean just that area and then they passed. Lots of people have us come out. I prefer it right after the remediation before, they put it back. About the same time, they're doing their post-tests. Because that way, if there's something wrong, I can show them where it's at and they can fix it really easy. And lots of people do that.

[01:16:26] SCOTT: It's not a replacement for the more traditional post-remediation verification.

[01:16:30] BILL: No.

[01:16:32] SCOTT: Either doing air samples in the containment. Or taking surface samples or example. But, again, a collaboration. Is that sometimes the case then that the dog is actually going into the containment area where they haven't taken containment down because the PRV or clearance testing is still in progress?

[01:16:48] BILL: Yes. We do that a lot of times. Our dogs are trained. We go through containment into the area. Search with the containment. The negative air pressure running the fans. It doesn't bother them. Yeah. We do that. That's our preferred method. Okay. It does not replace your clearance test. That's not what we're doing. We're going in to tell you – give you somewhat of a clearance. But, also, if there is an issue, we can pinpoint it. Instead of just saying it's failed, the dog goes in and says, "Oh, here's a problem." And then you fix that. Yeah, nothing replaces your clearance. The dogs definitely do not replace the clearance test. We still want them to do that. But we go in. That way, they can figure out what it is and fix it right then.

[01:17:32] SCOTT: One of the more common questions that I get is from people that have mold illness maybe are in an environment with mold. They're looking to move. They're evaluating multiple environments. They're doing ERMIs. They're doing gravity plates. They're doing IEPs in some cases. Wondering how often you might get called out to do an inspection with one of the mold dogs to assess the potential of a new environment that someone's still considering potentially being health-supportive? Versus finding some problems and keeping them from a whole another cycle of misery?

[01:18:06] BILL: Yeah. We do that a lot. Unfortunately, in the environment of the real estate, most of the places, stuff's turning over quickly. So, it's hard. But, yeah. I have customers where I've checked houses before they even consider. Yeah, part of – they're doing ERMIs. They're doing other tests. But I've had lots of people use it, the dog, ahead of time. And then once the dog says, "Yeah, this place is good." And then they do the ERMIs, and the air tests, and have the inspector come out. Yeah, we do that a lot actually. Because they don't want to make the same mistake.

I'm not a big fan of running, if you will. I like to surround, circle the wagons, and fix what you got. But sometimes that's not an option. And people want to move. Yeah, I definitely encourage them. Before you step into the next place, let me check it. Yeah. Be part of the process anyways. Yeah.

[01:18:59] SCOTT: For people that are interested in this idea of mold dog inspections, about how much does an average inspection cost?

[01:19:05] BILL: Average inspection is 1,200 to 1,500 bucks. I mean, an average. Obviously, if they're not in the area, travel may occur. But usually around 1200 to 1500, they should be able to get an inspection done. Maybe a little cheaper if they're close and it's small, that kind of thing. But average is 1,200, 1,500 bucks.

[01:19:26] SCOTT: I know you all do a lot of traveling to try to meet the need as much as possible. How do people go about finding a mold dog near them? Is there a list of nationally or, now it sounds like internationally-certified mold dogs, people, handlers that are offering these services? How do we find them? And how do we ensure that a mold dog has the proper training?

[01:19:50] BILL: Yeah. Well, yeah. That's important. And they can contact us. Me. And we have a list of people that are trained by us, and the areas they're in, and maintaining their certification. And we're putting new people out all the time. I mean, just last week, I just finished a dog. It's going to be in Kansas. And we're proud to have them back on our team and out there. We're adding dogs. We're just being very picky.

Most of the people that I'm picking this time is people that have lived a nightmare. Because I don't want people – I certainly need to make money. But I want people that are going to care. I know that sounds corny. But I want people that understand this. I've been mostly picking people that have lived this nightmare. They have someone in their family that's lived – that's had the mold sensitivity, had the mold problem. Most of my people are that way. Hopefully, they're going to have a little bit more honor, integrity. Because there's a lot of stuff in this industry that's not – it's not very nice. And we're trying to keep it that way.

But they can contact us on my number. And we can – and we're putting the list together to put on our site. We're working on that and making sure we can maintain that and keep it full. But right now, they can contact me, and we'll certainly guide them to the closest place, person that they can use.

And we're adding people every day as we speak. But we're being very cautious and very slow because we want to – I want a good team out there. Not a bad. Because like you said, it only takes one person not to be doing a good job and it makes it all bad for everybody.

[01:21:35] SCOTT: My last question is the same for every guest, and that is what are some of the key things that you do on a daily basis to support your own health?

[01:21:43] BILL: Oh. One of the things I do. Well, I'm older now. So I don't run. But I do exercise. I walk. I still skateboard. Longboard. Not skateboard. I do walk a lot and try to maintain that.

Probably, the biggest thing is my wife just got a kidney. For three and a half years, we were doing dialysis. I eat better except when I'm on the road. What I've been trying to do on the road is to try to eat healthier. But our diet definitely has been better the last 3 or four years because of my wife's illness. I exercise. And I do detox. And I'm trying to eat better when I'm on the road. And when you're on the road, it's hard to eat good because your choices are just terrible. Probably one of the biggest things I'm doing is trying to eat better.

[01:22:37] SCOTT: This has been a great conversation. I learned some new things. I appreciate that you're there to support people. Really enjoyed sniffing out this important topic with you. Thank you so much for spending time with us today. But thank you also for the work that you do. The years that you've put into trying to help people using these beautiful animals to help minimize the struggle, minimize the suffering of so many other people. Just appreciate that not only are you doing great work. But you're creating a real ripple effect by having people that you're then training that are also able to go out and support all of us that have dealt with mold illness. Thank you so much, Bill. Appreciate it.

[01:23:19] BILL: Anytime. Thank you.

[OUTRO]

[01:23:22] SCOTT: To learn more about today's guest, visit mold-dog.com. That's mold-dog.com. Mold-dog.com.

Thanks so much for listening to today's episode. If you're enjoying the show, please leave a positive rating or review as doing so will help the show reach a broader audience. To follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok, you can find me there as BetterHealthGuy. If you'd like to support the show, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com/donate. To be added to my newsletter, visit BetterHealthGuy.com/newsletters. This and other episodes can be found on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Amazon Music.

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[END]

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