COVID-19 sniffing police dogs make US debut

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BRISTOL COUNTY, Mass. (NewsNation Now) — The Bristol County Sheriff’s office in Massachusetts announced they will be the first law enforcement with K-9s trained to detect COVID-19.

The law enforcement agency posted photos of the dogs at the small graduation ceremony they held for the K-9s.

The two dogs will be partnered with members of the Bristol County law enforcement team to detect COVID-19 in public areas.

Courtesy: Bristol County Sheriff’s Office

Huntah, a 9-month-old black lab, and Duke, a 9-month-old golden lab/ retriever mix, were trained at Florida International University’s International Forensic Research Institute.

“It’s best to think of it as a decontamination tool,” BCSO Capt. Paul Douglas said. “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.”

The dogs were trained using masks worn by COVID-19-positive individuals. The masks were burned by UV light to destroy the actual virus.

“This is all science,” Douglas said.

Though infection rates have decreased significantly, the delta variant has led to an increase nationwide in positive cases and deaths from coronavirus. The U.S. passed 600,000 deaths from coronavirus in June.

Law enforcement are hoping the dogs will help allow reopening to continue despite the concerns posed by the delta variant.

“Today, festivals are happening, restaurants are full and concert venues are packed. We’ve made so much progress, and our new COVID-19 detection program is one way the people of Bristol County can stay ahead of the curve,” Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson said.

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