Duval County

Specialized dogs trained to sniff out COVID-19

Since the pandemic began, there has been a variety of COVID-19 tests. One of the most recent? Dog detection.

“We train the dogs to find the actual virus by using the virus itself, and training the dogs to alert to us when they find the odor of the actual virus,” said Jeff Mendor, CEO of Top Tier K9.

Their detection dogs out in the field run at 99% accuracy, but overall are well above 90%.

“It’s gone as high as 99%,” Mendor said. “Because of how we started and early on taking every test into account, we’re running at about 96% accuracy.”

The COVID-19 detection dogs also find asymptomatic carriers of the virus. Mendor says when it comes to sniffing out COVID-19, there’s currently a focus of three breeds that are really up to the task.

“Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd and British Labrador Retriever,” Mendor said. “Not only have the noses to do it, but the drive.”

Coronavirus vaccine: County-by-county plan for Northeast Florida, Southeast Georgia

Right now they have about 70 COVID-19 detection dogs, with two key benefits: the physical aspect of potentially saving lives, as well as the psychological impact it can have in knowing they’re there to help.

“There’s physical saving lives, meaning the dogs can identify someone with COVID in near real-time,” Mendor said. “It allows us to isolate people with the illnesses very quickly.”

Mendor says they can test about six people per minute and as high as 12. As this pandemic is still ongoing, he says they’ll have about 250 COVID-19 detection dogs going through training by the end of the year.

QUICK LINKS: How to make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in the Jacksonville area

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