This dog has the right nose: Nala (8) finds dangerous mold in residential buildings
Created: 12/14/2022, 3:00 p.m
By: Anna Liebelt
Sonja Stephani with her eight-year-old nose Nala © Private
Sonja Stephani and her German shepherd Nala are Bavaria's only mold detection dog team.
Since 2017, the duo has been looking for hidden mold infestations in buildings.
This is often found behind furniture.
Hergolding - With ears up, green collar and black harness, she is on the job: the animal nose for mold infestation from Hergolding - Nala.
Since 2016, the Old German Shepherd bitch Nala (8) and her mistress Sonja Stephani (39) have been looking for hidden mold in buildings or on construction sites throughout Bavaria and parts of Austria.
In October of this year, the duo passed the necessary examination of the Federal Association for Mold Remediation for the third time.
This means that the two district residents will continue to be Bavaria's only mold detection dog team.
Nala can recognize up to 20 different types of mold
The bitch's training to become a certified white horse search dog took about a year and a half.
"Nala was particularly quick there," says the expert for mold damage proudly.
It usually takes dogs two to three years of practice before they can identify the nearly 20 common types of mold on different surfaces.
The idea of working with four-legged support at all came to the 39-year-old through a report.
"In Sweden, dogs have been helping to locate mold for a long time," explains the woman from Hergoldingen.
In Germany, on the other hand, there are only five mold search dog teams.
The reason for this is the effort involved.
"The dog must always remain at a high training level," explains Stephani.
"It's a very extreme effort."
But it was worth it for the 39-year-old.
Thanks to the many hours of practice, the dog has successfully sniffed out hidden mold infestation in umpteen buildings.
Especially for people with health problems, such as allergy sufferers or asthmatics, the offer of the "Mould Search Dog Bavaria" can be of enormous importance.
The customer base of the experts does not only include sick people: "Many people also contact me after water damage or before buying a house," says Stephani.
The shepherd looking for mold on an apartment door © Private
For a successful inspection, the duo follows a proven scheme
To ensure that a mold inspection can run smoothly, the duo follows a proven scheme.
First, Stephani gets an overview of the rooms to be searched.
The 39-year-old takes a particularly close look at whether the customer has prepared the premises in accordance with the "operational guidelines": It should have been well ventilated, vacuumed and wiped.
In addition, all rubbish bins should be emptied and existing pets should be removed from hearing and sight.
This is the only way to avoid distracting the bitch.
In the next step, the expert carries out some indoor climate measurements.
“I always have my measuring case with me, for example to determine the building moisture,” she says.
These data would give initial conclusions about a possible mold infestation.
Then the fur nose is used.
The bitch sniffs walls, floors,
doors and furniture.
"When she finds something, she freezes," explains the dog handler.
Stephani marks the spot where the German shepherd has made itself felt with a sticky note.
She then rewards Nala for her find.
This is how the duo works from room to room.
The bitch can locate the exact spot of the white horse
"The fascinating thing is that the dog's nose is always right," says Stephani admiringly.
Conventional mold tests would indicate which mold it is, but could not determine its exact location in the room.
The dog's nose is responsible for this.
"The dog is just a link in the chain," remarks the 39-year-old.
"With Nala I can simply localize the mold faster and more efficiently".
This is what a mold infestation can look like.
The dangerous fungus often hides behind furniture © Private
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Fancy a journey of discovery?
Sniffing is not harmful for the four-legged friend.
"We have the mold spores in special packaging for practice," explains the woman from Hergolding.
During the house inspections, the mold is mostly hidden, which means that no spores can get on the bitch's nose.
"I also make sure that she only stays in the rooms for a short time."
Working with her dog is a dream for Sonja Stephani
With the training of her dog, a dream has come true for the 39-year-old.
"I can now work with my dog and with real estate," she says, pleased the expert.
She enjoys this combination.
"That's the best way I can help people."
cost and contact
cost and contact
An inspection with the Hergoldinger mold search dog costs around four euros per square meter to be searched.
Interested parties can contact Sonja Stephani either via the website www.schimmelsuchhund-bayern.de or by telephone on 089 901 129 333.
You can read more news from the Ebersberg region here.
By the way: everything from the region is also available in our regular Ebersberg newsletter.