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Groups recruit COVID sniffer dogs to detect virus on tour

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into its third year, a new technique has emerged to detect positive cases during large-scale tours and concerts – and it’s being done on all fours.

In a bid to keep their tours from shutting down, musicians have started recruiting trained dogs capable of detecting the coronavirus in crew members or anyone else with backstage access.

“People say, ‘What is this dog doing? “” said recently Jerry Johnson, CEO of Bio Detection K9 Incorporated, which oversees the training program that contracts the dogs. Rolling stone. He explained that after about six weeks of training, dogs learn to sit up when they detect the virus on someone’s hands or feet. “It surprises them and they’re pessimistic, but if you understand the instincts of a dog’s behavior it makes a lot of sense. Dogs sniff each other to see if that other dog has a virus. We train them to look for something that would interest them anyway.

With the current increase in positive cases and groups looking to avoid canceling tours once they have already started, dogs are in high demand. Metallica used dogs for their fall 2021 shows in Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta, as well as their 40th anniversary concerts last month in San Francisco. Various groups plan to follow, including Tool and the country singer. Ashley McBryde.

The success of dog training is proven. Last fall, during an Eric Church tour, several crew members who thought they were negative actually tested positive via detection of the dog. “So far touch wood, the dogs have taken it out of the park,” said John Peets of Q Prime, the management company that represents Church and Metallica. Rolling stone. “We haven’t had a missing dog. Dogs are more accurate than tests.

Currently 12 dogs are in service, with seven or eight more in training, and the program has now been fine-tuned so that dogs can detect the highly transmissible Omicron variant by sniffing an individual’s mask, not their hands or feet. And not only are the dogs more effective than regular testing policies, they’re also cheaper, around $ 2 per person according to Johnson, and, as Peets notes, “friendlier.”

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