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April 13, 2023
Massachusetts’ Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) is the first in the country to implement a COVID-19 detecting K9 unit.
The two members of the team are Huntah, a nine-month-old female black lab, and Duke, a nine-month-old male golden lab/retriever mix. “It’s best to think of it as a decontamination tool,” BCSO Captain Paul Douglas said in a statement. “The dogs can detect the COVID odor on a counter or table if it was recently touched by a COVID-positive individual, or even detect the odor on a tissue used by someone with COVID.”
Viruses have a distinct scent identifiable to dogs, as per research from Florida International University’s International Forensic Research Institute, where the K9 program was initiated. According to Dr. Ken Furton of Florida International University, the trained dogs have an accuracy rate of 90 percent.
In February, he talked about the initiative on a podcast, saying, “More than nine times out of 10, when the odor is there or a positive mask is there, the dogs alert and they get very few false positives,” Furton said. “So they’re very, very accurate, actually more accurate than even PCR testing in the laboratory.”
ARTICLE: ANTOINETTE AHO
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK POST