No bed bugs found at Goodwill warehouses yet

A bed bug is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, Wednesday, March 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

July 31, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Goodwill is close to getting the all-clear from a bed bug scare that has shut down two of their warehouses for nearly a week. Bug experts started inspecting the warehouses on Wednesday, and the early word is encouraging.

The Goodwill donation center in Burlingame was closed for most of Wednesday. Employees were sent home early, and by 11 a.m. a bed bug sniffing dog was on the scene.

For Wednesday, at least, the Burlingame bed bug scare at a Goodwill warehouse ended with a handshake, smiles, a pat on the back, and then the departure of an unnamed, bed bug sniffing dog who the non-profit says found nothing suspicious.

At a Goodwill outlet not far away, that came as good news to customers.

"I think they were a little overly cautious, and that is a good thing," Goodwill customer Thomas Boor said. "I think the people of Burlingame really appreciate that."

The scare began Friday night at a Goodwill warehouse in San Francisco, an intake center for 33 different donation sites. An inspection there had revealed evidence of the critters, prompting Goodwill to throw out enough donations to fill a semi-truck.

"I think throwing it out is better than putting it in the store and hoping everyone will just buy it," Goodwill customer Brandon Behravesh said.

Bedbug infestations have become a national problem. Western Exterminator District Manager Dale Ingold is surprised we don't hear more about them.

"It didn't surprise me because it's so widespread in today's industry," Ingold said. "We find evidence of bed bugs in hotels, movie theatres, planes, trains, boats, everywhere, we do cruise ships, I did a library in one city."

The parasites can be as small as the head of a pin or as large as a ladybug. They cause skin rashes or allergies and reproduce prolifically.

"Bed bugs are going to typically be where they can get a blood meal, that's what they are after," Ingold said. "That's most likely gonna be bedding, things that are associated with the beds like headboards, cabinets next to beds."

And certainly, all non-profits run the risk of receiving them in donations. They come with the territory, apparently, an old nemesis persisting in this new century.

A Goodwill spokesperson tells me he is absolutely confident that no bed bugs reached any customers. He says, in fact, they have not identified any bed bugs in any facility. He says all of this has been precautionary.

The dog will return Thursday to sniff again.