These pups are giving COVID a ruff time.
COVID-sniffing canines have become an unexpected weapon in the battle against the deadly virus — and have already been deployed from Florida to New York to Massachusetts.
The specially trained canines are now scouring schools in Massachusetts to detect the virus, a precaution before students return to class.
“They love to work,” Bristol County Sheriff’s spokesman Jonathan Darling told CBS News. “And then when they’re not working, they just want to give you kisses and we love it.”
The sheriff’s office sent two Labradors to Florida International University, which specializes in training dogs to find COVID in people and surfaces through its Global Forensic and Justice Center at its campus in Miami.
Researchers at the school had been working on identifying odors and scents dogs could be trained to detect since 1993 — and added COVID to the list in 2020, the school said.
“The dogs have been tested in data collected and published at 99.6 percent accuracy,” program manager Kip Schultz told The Post Thursday. “So, that’s pretty good.”
“It’s all about tools in the toolbox,” Schultz said. “I think in the times that we’re in, the dog is vital to combat the virus.”
The trained pups have even found their way to the Big Apple since the pandemic hit — although the NYPD has not trained their police dogs for the virus.
In October, a Chinatown pet services company, BARK, reached out to BioScent, a Florida company that has been among the leaders in the newfound industry.
BARK wanted to make sure their Canal Street offices were clean before employees prepared to return to the office after the lockdown.
“BARK dogs are at the center of everything we do, so it made complete sense to work with COVID-sniffing dogs when we were considering our return to office plan,” company spokesperson Stacie Grissom said Thursday.
“The dogs were very sweet to our human employees and played well with our four-legged ones,” she said.
With super-sensitive snouts, the dogs, primarily Beagles, can be trained to detect the scent of the virus, just as they can smell explosives, drugs, and even bed bugs.
“I started back before we even had the first lockdown,” said BioScent owner Heather Junqueira, who has 22 pups trained to sniff out the bug.
“It was a little tricky in the beginning getting samples,” she said Thursday. “But one thing led to another and we did it.”
One downside, Junqueira said, is that once the canines are trained to detect the virus they cannot be re-trained to detect other scents.
Nonetheless, the four-legged sleuths will likely be busy for a while.