Two dogs trained to detect a smell found among people who test positive with COVID-19 will visit three Massachusetts school districts, according to local media reports on Tuesday.
The two dogs will include a black labrador named Huntah and a golden lab named Duke.
The three school districts included Freetown, Lakeville, and Norton School Districts. The two dogs are expected to visit 15 different school locations.
“With COVID, whether it’s the Omicron, whether it’s the Delta, our dogs will hit on it,” said Bristol County Capt. Paul Douglas told WBZ-TV. “And if there’s a new variant that comes out in six months, hopefully there isn’t, but if there is one, COVID is COVID.”
COVID Detecting Dogs Begin Working In 3 Massachusetts School Districtshttps://t.co/vhX3JkiCXq
— WBZ | CBS Boston News (@wbz) January 4, 2022
“I see it as a great opportunity for kids to recognize that we are doing everything we can to mitigate the risk and I want them to feel secure and safe and not anxious about their surroundings,” Fairhaven School Superintendent Tara Kohler told the outlet.
DeEtta Mills is the Dir. of the International Forensic Research Institute at FIU & Biology Chair — in Norton today to certify the detector dogs.
The program was modeled after training dogs to sniff out a fungus that killed avocado trees in Florida. pic.twitter.com/V47qOYb8Fu
— Kelly O'Neill (@kellyoneilltv) January 5, 2022
Huntah and Duke are considered the first two law enforcement dogs in the nation trained to detect the coronavirus.
“BCSO K9s Huntah and Duke are the first law enforcement K9s in the country trained to detect COVID. We celebrated at a small graduation ceremony yesterday,” the department shared on Twitter last year.
BCSO K9s Huntah and Duke are the first law enforcement K9s in the country trained to detect COVID. We celebrated at a small graduation ceremony yesterday. Huntah is Capt. Douglas’ partner and Duke is paired with Officer Santos. @SheriffHodgson pic.twitter.com/fohQMK5mnW
— Bristol County Sheriff's Office (@BristolSheriff) July 15, 2021
The new program has led to newfound fame for the dogs as well.
“@SheriffHodgson is sitting down with Dr. DeEtta Mills and Brett Mills for his podcast today. Dr. Mills and the @FIU_Forensics team created the Covid-detection dog program and researched the science behind it. Today, the BCSO has two Covid dogs thanks to FIU,” the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office posted on Thursday.
“K9 Officer Teddy Santos and his partner Duke joined Sheriff Hodgson on the next episode. We’ll post the links when the shows are released,” it added.
K9 Officer Teddy Santos and his partner Duke joined Sheriff Hodgson on the next episode. We’ll post the links when the shows are released. pic.twitter.com/TWqlwmytjk
— Bristol County Sheriff's Office (@BristolSheriff) January 6, 2022
The two dogs are part of a new Florida International University program that is training K-9s in COVID-19 protection.
“Our COVID-19 detector dogs are part of our campus-wide efforts to create the best possible environment using available evidence and our own research,” FIU Provost and Chief Operating Officer Kenneth Furton said in January 2021.
“Much like bomb-detecting dogs, COVID-19 detecting dogs can sweep an area and alert to the presence of the odor that is left on surfaces (particles, aerosols, cellular material) by a person infected with COVID-19,” the report added.
Dogs used in the program at Miami International Airport reported more than 99% accuracy at COVID-19 detection in September.
“In published, peer-reviewed, double-blind trials, the dogs were found to accurately detect COVID-19 96 to 99 percent of the time,” Newsweek reported.