(WHDH) — The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday became the first law enforcement organization in the United States to debut canines that are trained to detect COVID-19.
“Bristol County and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have come so far since the pandemic started last year,” Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson said. “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.”
Huntah, a 9-month-old black lab, and Duke, a 9-month-old golden lab-retriever mix, are both trained to sniff out the unique odor of COVID-19. The pups are stepsiblings, born two weeks apart with the same father and different mothers.
Huntah and Duke graduated from a program that was developed by Florida International University’s International Forensic Research Institute.
“FIU officials provided medical masks worn by COVID-positive patients for the training odors. An ultraviolet system was used on the masks that kills the contagious portion but leaves the COVID odor, making is safe for the canines and officers to use as training tools,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
The sheriff’s office noted that it’s now working with the New Bedford Fire Department and local EMS providers on acquiring masks worn by local COVID patients for future training aids.
The canines can also detect the advanced variants such as the Delta variant.
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