By: Destiny Mouawad, Staff Reporter, The Pawprint
Huntah and Duke, two 14 month old labrador retrievers, live a happy life spending time with their owners, playing fetch and sniffing out COVID-19, specifically the Delta variant, in Massachusett middle schools.
Bristol County Sheriff’s public information officer, Jonathan Darling notes how “…they love to work…”, last year the Massachusstes police department had reached out to the Forensics Center at Florida International University (FIU) mentioning that their canines could be able to detect COVID-19 odors based on conducted studies and that their sense of smell can be 10,000 to 100,000 times better than a humans. It showed that the trained dogs were right 90% of the time and in order to test this, FIU sent them to work on their campus as well as Miami International Airport.
After the success of the study, trial with the dogs and a completed training program last July which consisted of training Huntah and Duke to sit in front of the detected area in order to make note of the viruses odor, the dogs got to visit Norton Middle School and practiced detecting the virus with mask-covered students.
Since then the dog duo “…have worked in three different school districts, police stations, a local health department, town halls and office buildings…” not only are the dogs helping with the COVID-19 prevention efforts but they are also bringing smiles and “…joy to the community…”.