Story at a glance

  • A county in Massachusetts has become the first in the United States to use COVID-19 detection dogs.
  • The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office announced on Thursday that two of its K9 dogs, Huntah and Duke, have been trained to detect COVID-19.
  • The training program was created by Florida International University’s International Forensic Research Institute.

A county in Massachusetts has become the first in the United States to use COVID-19 detection dogs.

The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office announced on Thursday that two of its K9 dogs, Huntah and Duke, have been trained to detect COVID-19.

“Similar to drugs and weapons, COVID-19 has a unique odor which two BCSO dogs are trained to detect,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook. “The program was developed by Florida International University’s (FIU) International Forensic Research Institute.”

Huntah and Duke were trained to identify the odor by using medical masks worn by coronavirus-positive patients. To ensure the dogs’ and officers’ safety during training, the masks had undergone an ultraviolet system that killed the contagious portion of COVID-19 but allowed the odor to remain.

FIU uses its own trained K9 COVID-19 sniffers on its Florida campus.


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While the sheriff’s office has stressed that its K9 officers are not to be used as a substitute for a coronavirus test, the county is allowing members of the community to request their use for schools and town buildings, nonprofit organizations, nursing homes, Councils on Aging, public safety and medical facilities, if needed.

“Anyone interested can send a request letter to Sheriff Hodgson, 400 Faunce Corner Road, Dartmouth, Ma 02747,” the sheriff’s office said. “Public safety organizations seeking an urgent COVID sweep can contact Capt. Douglas (pauldouglas@bcso-ma.org) and Supt. Steven Souza (stevensouza@bcso-ma.org).”


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Published on Jul 16, 2021