The charity Guide Dogs kindly donated three dogs to another charity, Medical Detection Dogs, for them to be trained to detect the virus Covid-19. The three dogs did not quite come up to standard as blind dogs but of course they’d been through lots of training which makes them ideal candidates in their new role. All three are two-years-of-age and are the latest recruits for a trial training dogs to detect this virus.
I can recall writing about this a little while ago and is believed that once trained they will be able to detect the virus rapidly, certainly far more quickly than current tests permit. This may be enormously advantageous in places such as airports where the spread of the disease is far more likely and where travellers need to be checked. We know how badly air travel has been negatively impacted by the virus. Anything which can improve the prospects for the airline business must be welcome.
Chris Allen, the training manager at Medical Detection Dogs, is extremely grateful to Guide Dogs for their donation. All three dogs thoroughly enjoy working and are very willing. Tim Stafford, director of canine affairs at Guide Dogs said: “Guide Dogs is delighted to be able to support Medical Detection Dogs and collaborate in the fight against Covid-19 with this ground-breaking work”.
The current trial to see whether dogs can be trained to detect this virus is being supported by a government grant of half a million pounds. The trial involves scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University. Other countries are also involved in training dogs to detect the virus. In Finland, in September, they offered passengers a coronavirus test using specially trained dogs. And in Russia they use small fox-like dogs called Shalaikas to sniff out the virus.