Virus-Sniffing Dogs Becoming Popular Alternative For COVID-19 Tests, Reports Say
© Photo : Public DomainBeagle
© Photo : Public Domain
People with COVID-19 have a special scent that specially trained dogs can pick up. Even asymptomatic virus carriers can give off the smell. The task of the dog handler is to ensure that the animal reacts precisely to the smell and clearly warns about infected people. The practice has already been widely adopted in some airports across the world.
Coronavirus-sniffing pups, trained to detect infected people, were employed by Massachusetts police to scour schools before they open back up for students, the New York Post reported on Thursday.
“They love to work,” Bristol County Sheriff’s spokesman Jonathan Darling told CBS News. “And then when they’re not working, they just want to give you kisses and we love it.”
The sheriff’s office sent two labradors for skills development training at Florida International University (FIU), which trains dogs to detect the scent of novel coronavirus on people and surfaces. The Global Forensic and Justice Center at FIU's campus in Miami has specialized in olfactory training since 1993 and added COVID to its list last year, according to the New York Post.
“The dogs have been tested in data collected and published at 99.6 percent accuracy, so, that’s pretty good,” program manager Kip Schultz told the newspaper. “It’s all about tools in the toolbox. I think in the times that we’re in, the dog is vital to combat the virus.”
Earlier, the New York-based pet services company BARK also sent its dogs for training so that they help them find COVID-19 before their “return to office plan.” “The dogs were very sweet to our human employees and played well with our four-legged ones,” said company spokesperson Stacie Grissom on Thursday.
Heather Junqueira, owner of BioScent company in Florida, where BARK dogs were trained, said that she started experimenting before the first lockdowns.
“It was a little tricky in the beginning getting samples, but one thing led to another and we did it,” she said on Thursday, adding that once a dog learns to detect a certain scent, it can’t be trained to detect other scents.