Dogs trained to detect COVID-19 will soon sniff out the virus at Florida Capitol

A new tool to detect COVID-19 has four legs and a tail.

Dogs are sniffing out the virus on college campuses and soon at the state Capitol.

A team of Florida International University (FIU) researchers trained several dogs to detect the virus.

They say COVID produces a certain smell and an odor that dogs can be trained to detect.

"We began a process of collecting items that were either used by individuals that were either positive for COVID," said Kenneth Furton, FIU provost and chief operating officer.

The trained dogs will work on campus at FIU this spring as part of the effort to control the spread of the virus.

Much like bomb-detecting dogs, COVID-19 detecting dogs can sweep an area of the odor that is left on surfaces by an infected person.

"The dogs will be deployed across the campus in different areas, especially the high traffic areas," said Deetta Mills, FIU's director of International Forensic Research Institute. "Say, the saks building, the library, the JC, some of these other areas that are going to be really hard to stay ahead of the cleaning, especially the areas where so many people are going back and forth. So, they will basically be able to search any place."

FIU's COVID-detecting dogs were also invited to sweep the state emergency operations center in Tallahassee and will start working at the Florida Capitol next week.

The canine team consists of several sizes of dogs to help get in the hard-to-reach areas, such as under tables and between chairs.

Researchers say when the odor is detected on a surface, the dog alerts the handler so the area can be cleaned.

The dogs can detect the virus with a 90% accuracy rate, according to researchers.