His nose knows termites in Sarasota and Manatee counties
East County resident Ron Freedman walked through the front door with his beagle, Sgt. Snitch, and was ready for business.
“Find your Tees,” said Freedman, who refers to termites as Tees when he talks to Snitch.
He was on the hunt for his Tees. After all, chasing termites can be quite the thrill.
“He’s all energy, all the time,” Freedman said with a chuckle. “I have to slow him down. It’s my job as a handler to make sure he gets in all the
nooks and crannies.”
Snitch did not find any termites at this home, but he has found them in all the typical places — cabinets, walls and even in furniture — at other properties.
Snitch and Freedman are one of only three dog-handler termite detection teams in the U.S. certified by the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association. All three teams are located in Florida, according to the organization’s website.
While Freedman uses his eyes to inspect a home for termites and wood-destroying organisms, Snitch’s value is his nose. He can identify potential problem areas that Freedman cannot see or can help validate concerns. Freedman said that by law, he cannot say a property has termites unless he sees one, but having Snitch as an indicator gives property owners or homebuyers an extra layer of protection.
“He gives us a much better indicator past our eyes,” said Freedman, who owns All American Pest Services out of his home in East County. “He’s trained to sniff live termites, not dead ones.
“Termites can be in a piece of wood three to four years, sometimes, before you see anything. … It’s a tool. It’s not 100%. We still have to find them.”
If Snitch alerts — his signal is pawing the location in question — Freedman can recommend preventative treatments or encourage property owners to monitor certain areas.
Having Snitch has helped Freedman be better at his job too. Because Freedman must train Snitch daily, he has to have live termites ready to be found. He keeps logs, old cabinets and other pieces of wood that have the creature in them.
Freedman said trying to keep termites alive has helped him better understand how the insect lives and thrives.
Freedman spent more than a decade as a mechanic in the drag racing industry before getting into the pest control business in 2014 with a friend, Jamie Hannan, in Port St. Lucie. Hannan has his own termite inspection business, Hannan Environmental Services, and Freedman was looking for a new career path.
“I was tired of being married to a race car,” Freedman said.
While they were working together, Hannan purchased a termite-sniffing dog who was nearing retirement, and he began putting its nose to use in identifying termites.
“That’s how I saw the value of what they can do,” Freedman said.
Freedman started his own pest services business in East County, close to his family, in 2016. He became licensed in termites in late 2017 and got Snitch about six months later. Snitch had been a hunting dog, but when that wasn’t working out, his owner gave him up for adoption. J&K Canine Academy Inc./Scentworx, in Alachua, found him for Freedman and began his training, which took about four months.
Freedman said Snitch hunts for both subterranean and hardwood termites, as well as beg bugs.
Snitch typically goes out for inspections two to four times per week, but Freedman said it could be more — perhaps three times per day. He hopes to get a second handler certified, so Snitch can be better utilized.
Freedman said a typical wood-destroying inspection that tests for termites costs $50-$75. With Snitch, the service costs $125-$150.