Mason and Mason Junior work long hours with their noses to the ground, but they don’t complain. For them, their work is a game — sniffing out bad stuff for their “boss,” Brian Dillon.
Mason and Mason Junior are beagles whose noses do the detective work for Dillon’s company, Dog Gone Mold, which specializes in the detection and treatment of mold in residences around the metropolitan area. Dillon, a Shawnee resident, started his company four years ago after spending as many years in the industry working for another firm.
“I just wanted to go out on my own,” Dillon said. “Within the industry I had heard about using dogs, but there was none in Kansas City, so I saw an opportunity.”
According to Dog Gone Mold’s website, using dogs to sniff out mold is highly successful because dogs are unbiased and, with their keen sensitivity to smells, can find mold without people having to, say, tear open walls first.
Q: How did you put the business together?
Dillon did not have a formal business plan and used his own finances to get Dog Gone Mold off the ground. Dillon holds several certifications to eradicate mold, although the state or federal government does not require them.
“You get certified so you get the training and know what you are doing,” he said.
Dog Gone Mold holds certifications from the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration and the Mold Inspection Consulting and Remediation Organization.
“I got the certifications I needed, bought the dog, and put myself out there,” Dillon said.
Dog Gone Mold has six employees including two inspectors and crews who come in to get rid of the mold — mitigation work, in the industry’s terms. Fees are charged per house; it’s $200 to inspect up to 3,000 square feet and $250 for a larger residence.
“If we do find mold we apply the inspection fee to treatment,” he said.
Q: What was your business background?
Dillon worked for another mold detection company but had been around the residential home industry.
“I was in real estate and I was a broker selling for over 10 years,” Dillon said. “That was part of what led me to this. I met a home inspector who did whole house inspections and he started doing mold inspections and asked me if I would help him with his business. I worked for him on the side. When the real estate market tanked, I decided to go full time in the mold business.”
Dillon’s years in the real estate business convinced him how important it was to check for mold.
“Mold is much more prevalent than people think,” he said. “A lot goes undetected because people don’t think to get inspected. … I get calls all the time from people who have bought a home and several months later they are getting sick, and I come in and find mold.”
Dillon advises people to do a mold inspection before buying a home so the problem can be mitigated beforehand.
Q: What kind of training do the dogs receive?
Dillon bought Mason and Mason Junior from a local kennel that trains scent dogs.
“Once the dog is trained, then you have to get trained to learn how to handle the dog,” Dillon said. “You can’t just take a mold dog off the shelf; you have to develop communication with the dog.”
Dillon said beagles are used for a particular reason: “They have big noses and are great at scent detection.”
Mason lives with Dillon full time, and Mason Junior lives with the other inspector. Though the dogs do lots of work, Dillon said, it isn’t hard for them.
“The dog doesn’t know he has a job,” Dillon said. “He thinks it is just a game. He lives at my house and plays and gets rewarded when he finds mold.”
Q: How does the process work with dogs?
The human inspector looks through the entire house, basement to attic, looking for any visible signs of mold.
“Then we bring in the dog and walk through the house,” Dillon said. “If they detect mold, the dog gives a passive alert — they just sit down and look up at us and say ‘I’m not moving until you give me a treat,’,” Dillon said.
Dillon said using the dogs in mold detection is safe for the animal.
“If he gets one sniff that there is mold, we take him outside. The average person will be exposed to more mold raking their yard,” Dillon said.
“The dog does not replace the inspector but is another tool. It’s the least intrusive way to inspect. They can smell where I can’t see or without cutting a wall.”
Once an inspection has been made, if there is more than 10 square feet of mold, it should be mitigated, Dillon said. Dog Done Mold does such cleanup using a special vacuum and non-toxic, all natural cleaning products following EPA recommended mold treatment procedures. If mold is found in the sheet rock, Dillon said it must be removed and treated. The company offers a one-year unconditional warranty on its work.
Q: With a unique process for detecting mold, who are your marketing targets?
“Because I was a Realtor before this, I have marketed primarily to Realtors, letting them know if they want to protect their clients they should use us,” Dillon said.
Dillon will conducts classes for Realtors about mold at individual offices “and put on a demonstration with the dog. We have reached a point now I don’t do much marketing at all.”
Individual homeowners can also call for inspections.
Q: Is there much competition in the mold detection business?
“There’s plenty of competition out there (but) we are the only ones who have a dog,” Dillon said. “We pride ourselves on being thorough on our inspections and the work that we do. … The word gets out there.”
Dillon claims his company has a 100 percent positive rating on Angie’s List.
“We try to treat people the right way,” he said.
IN A NUTSHELL
COMPANY: Dog Gone Mold LLC
WEB SITE: www.doggonemold.com