Could coronavirus-sniffing dogs be a useful tool?

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG-TV) — When you are getting tested for coronavirus, the most common test is the nasal swab, but what if something else could quickly detect COVID-19? And what if this something had four legs and a tail. Dogs, yes dogs, are being trained all around the world to detect COVID-19.

WKRG News 5 asked researchers in the Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine Canine Performance Science Program whether dogs can be trained to detect a virus. The answer is yes, according to Pam Haney with the program.

“We have done previous research projects showing dogs can detect a virus,” Haney said.

Haney emphasized that dogs are not being trained on live viruses. Researchers are able to clone any scent and apply it to an artificial product. Their dogs are never in danger of contracting a virus. Haney says Auburn mainly focuses on training dogs to sniff out explosive devices, but since the animals are smart, with enough repetition, they can be trained on any target.

Paul Waggoner, the co-director of the Canine Performance Science Center says training dogs on biological targets could prove useful in the future.

‘We are focusing on biological targets. We are focusing on the next virus that might be out there,” Waggoner said.

According to numerous scientific articles, there is research happening around the world showing that dogs could be a useful tool in detecting COVID-19 in places like airports, hospitals, and nursing home guest entrances. The dogs could scan a busy area for the virus, rather than relying on slow testing results.

Scientists agree that more testing using dogs is still needed, but early results are promising.

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