By Gail Marsh
Yes, you read that headline correctly. As if we didn’t need another reason to love dogs more than we already do, COVID-sniffing dogs are a thing of 2021. Are they here to save the day?
Specially trained sniffer dogs will welcome fans this weekend to Tampa, Florida’s American Airlines Arena. The Miami Heat will play the Sacramento Kings in basketball, and because of the special canine support, many eager fans will be able to enjoy the game in person. These dogs will be positioned at the entrance gates to detect if any fan has COVID-19. The dogs will walk past the line of people as they queue up to enter. If the dog sits down beside a person, it indicates that COVID is detected and the fan will not be able to enter.
Detection and sniffer dogs have sniffed out trouble for years
While the human nose has approximately six million olfactory receptors, dogs have 300 million. And while our brain is amazing in its ability to differentiate between odors, the area of a dog’s brain devoted to smell is 40 percent larger than yours or mine. Man’s (and woman’s) best friend can detect some odors in parts per trillion! No wonder why chicken smells so good…
Law enforcement has used sniffer dogs to identify things like illegal drugs, currency, and even electronic contraband like illicit cell phones. Detection dogs have helped the medical field by indicating cancer, migraines, heart attacks, and problematic issues with diabetics. Specially trained dogs can sniff out toxic mold, peanut dust (dangerous allergen for many), and even bed bugs!
Specially trained COVID-sniffing dogs
For the past several months, dogs have undergone training to sniff out COVID. Study results have determined that COVID-sniffing dogs can identify people infected by the virus before any symptoms appear. A trial at the Helsinki Airport in Finland showed that these trained detection dogs can identify COVID in less than ten seconds with nearly 100 percent accuracy.
So how does this work? What is it about the virus that dogs are able to detect? The coronavirus changes an infected person’s tissue. This change affects the person’s sweat scent signature, which is easily detected by the specially trained dogs.
Could COVID-sniffing dogs be an important tool in our arsenal to fight the spread of this virus? Is the Florida basketball game this weekend a sign of what’s to come? If getting tested for COVID means we’re able to get sniffed by a bunch of adorable pups, we’ll go get tested often…