This U.S. Airport Is Using COVID-Sniffing Dogs

The K-9s have over a 98% success rate.

Courtesy of Miami International Airport

Our four-legged friends can smell 100,000 times better than humans. So it should come as no surprise that officials have started using those powerful snouts to help sniff out COVID-19. Miami International Airport is the first in the country to use COVID-sniffing dogs to help regulate the virus.

The Miami-Dade Aviation Department is partnering with the Global Forensic and Justice Center at Florida International University and American Airlines to host a 30-day COVID-19 detector dog pilot program at the hub. The dogs, Cobra (a Belgian Malinois) and ‘One Betta (a Dutch Shepherd), can sniff out COVID because the virus causes metabolic changes in a person that result in the production of volatile organic compounds. Those volatile organic compounds are excreted by a person’s breath and sweat, producing a scent that the trained dogs can pick up, according to a press release from the airport.

So, by now you may be wondering exactly how this works. Don’t worry, you won’t be tackled by a dog at the airport if you do just so happen to have COVID-19 or smell like it. Once the dogs detect the scent, the passenger will be directed to take an airport-provided, rapid test. If the test comes back positive, the individual will be asked to leave and quarantine based on CDC guidance. And for anyone who is still a tad skeptical, the dogs are incredibly accurate. Cobra's accuracy rate is 99.4% and One Betta's is 98.1%. Airports in other countries like the United Arab Emirates and Finland have been using dogs to sniff out the virus since 2020.

Ralph Cutié, Miami International Airport's interim director, said this is just one of many efforts MIA is taking to protect its area. “We are proud to do our part in the fight against COVID-19, and we hope to see this pilot program potentially benefit the rest of Miami-Dade County and airports across the country.”

So keep your eyes peeled, a COVID-sniffing K-9 might be heading for an airport near you.

h/tThe Points Guy

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Janae Price is a News Staff Writer at Thrillist. She's a native New Yorker and loves all things cheese, K-pop, and culture. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @janae_larie.