Today's topic is about one of my favorite shows, Billy the Exterminator on A&E. He doesn't look like your average exterminator, does he? That's because he isn't. Billy is an animal lover, roach and wasp killer, family man, genius (yes, literally), and family man.
He got his start on an episode of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe (another household favorite) and was eventually offered his own show featuring his pest control business, Vexcon. Located near Shreveport, Louisiana, the business is a family affair. Although Billy and his brother Ricky are listed as the owners, their mom and dad run the office, and there's no doubt who's the boss: Donnie Bretherton, matriarch and somewhat control freak. She loves to get involved in younger son Ricky's love life and is constantly thwarting her husband's attempts to sneak out of the office to a job. He's had some health problems, including a heart attack, and she won't let him do much.
L-R: Ricky, Bill Sr., Donnie, and Billy.
Back to Billy. He's not just some backwoods rube running around with spiked hair and scary leather. He's educated, and according to his brother Ricky, his I.Q. is at genius level (as well as Ricky and Bill, Sr's.) Billy entered the Air Force in 1987 with dreams of law enforcement, but he tested so high in biology, science, and chemistry he was put into the field of entomology.
When I found out [about being placed in entomology] I actually started bawling my head off when I called home to my Mom and Dad because I just joined the United States Air Force to be the Orkin Man and squish bugs. --Billy Bretherton
Although he was disappointed, Billy credits the Air Force with giving him stellar training in the field. After an honorable discharge, he spent five years working with the industry's leading entomologist. He furthered his expertise by studying at Purdue University, and then earning a masters certification for termite control at LSU. Billy is an expert in using organic, non-chemical procedures to rid his customers of unwanted pests. Vexcon is one of the only companies to use eugenol oil - an organic element that zaps the pests but doesn't hurt humans or animals.
Billy and Ricky going after a big alligator.
He started Vexcon with his father in 1996 and the business quickly grew. What I love about Billy is that you see how intelligent and compassionate he is on every job. He always relocates animals if at all possible, including alligators (although the state of Louisiana states that an alligator over five foot must be disposed off), bees, raccoons, foxes, possums, snakes...the list goes on.
Billy loves working with his younger brother Ricky, and many of the shows episodes feature the two of them going up against all sorts of creatures. Vexcon is known for its compassionate treatment of wild animals, but Billy always makes sure to explain to customers - especially kids, how dangerous and unpredictable wild animals can be.
Billy and Ricky relocating a skunk.
One of my favorite episodes is from Season 3. Last year, Billy and Ricky went down to the Gulf to see the oil spill for themselves. They were sickened by what they saw. A guide took them through some of the marsh areas where the oil was beginning to encroach, and a raccoon was in serious danger, with oil already on its fur. The guide told Billy he couldn't legally rescue it - the state was only focusing on birds and taking mammals was strictly prohibited. Billy couldn't leave the stranded animal, so without much equipment, he and Ricky caught the coon, and Billy took him to shore and the heat that went with saving the animal.
Billy and Ricky looking at the destruction of the oil spill.
I'm not the only one in the house who loves Billy. Grace has declared her love for him. He and Justin Bieber are her boyfriends, and she's determined to be Billy for Halloween. I love the guy, but I'm not sure I want my five-year-old daughter running around the neighborhood looking like this:
I couldn't get this link to convert, but take two minutes and watch Billy explain how to capture a coyote without harming it. He's got no interest in the traps that clamp down and seriously injure the animal's leg. He wants to relocate it, not hurt it.
Billy the Exterminator is on A&E, Tuesday at 10/9 central.