Virus sniffer dogs deployed in the fight against COVID-19
These puppies are giving COVID a ruffle time.
COVID sniffer dogs have become an unexpected weapon in the battle against the deadly virus – and have already been deployed from Florida to New York via Massachusetts.
Specially trained dogs are now roaming Massachusetts schools for the virus, a precaution before students return to class.
“They love to work,” Bristol County Sheriff Jonathan Darling told CBS News. “And then when they’re not working, they just want to give you a kiss and we love it.”
The sheriff’s office sent two Labradors to Florida International University, which specializes in training dogs to find COVID in people and surfaces through its Global Forensic and Justice Center on its Miami campus.
Researchers at the school have been working on identifying smells and scents that dogs could be trained to detect since 1993 – and added COVID to the list in 2020, the school said.
“The dogs were tested in the data collected and published with an accuracy of 99.6%,” program director Kip Schultz told the Post on Thursday. “So that’s pretty good.”
âIt’s all about the tools in the toolbox,â Schultz said. “I think that in the times we live in, dogs are vital in fighting the virus.”
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Trained puppies have even found their way to the Big Apple since the start of the pandemic – although the NYPD has not trained its police dogs for the virus.
In October, a Chinatown pet services company, BARK, contacted BioScent, a Florida company that is among the leaders in the new industry.
BARK wanted to make sure their Canal Street offices were clean before employees prepared to return to the office after the lockdown.
âBARK dogs are at the center of everything we do, so it made a lot of sense to work with COVID sniffer dogs when we were reviewing our plan to return to the office,â the spokesperson said Thursday. company, Stacie Grissom.
âThe dogs were very nice to our human employees and played well with our four paws,â she said.
With super sensitive muzzles, dogs, primarily Beagles, can be trained to smell the virus, just like they can smell explosives, drugs, and even bedbugs.
âI did it again before we even had the first lockdown,â said Heather Junqueira, owner of BioScent, who has 22 puppies trained to detect the bug.
âIt was a little difficult at first to get samples,â she said Thursday. “But one thing led to another and we did.”
One downside, Junqueira said, is that once dogs are trained to detect the virus, they cannot be retrained to detect other smells.
Still, the four-legged detectives will likely be busy for a while.