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Bands recruit sniffer dogs to detect Covid on tour

The canines are taught to sit down if they detect the virus and were used for late 2021 US shows by Metallica and Eric Church

By James Hanley on 11 Jan 2022

Metallica will headline the inaugural Download Germany in 2022


Artists such as Metallica, Tool and the Black Keys have recruited sniffer dogs to detect Covid backstage on their tours.

Overseen by Ohio-based Bio-Detection K9, whose president Jerry Johnson worked with dog teams in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s, the canines were used for late 2021 US shows by Eric Church and Metallica.

The dogs are taught to sit down if they detect the virus on people’s hands and feet.

“If you understand the instincts of a dog’s behaviour, it makes a lot of sense,” Johnson tells Rolling Stone. “Dogs sniff each other to see if that other dog has a virus. We’re training them to look for something they’d be interested in anyway.”

“So far, knock on wood, the dogs have been knocking it out of the park”

The dogs are being utilised for upcoming dates by Church, Tool and Ashley McBryde, among others.

“So far, knock on wood, the dogs have been knocking it out of the park,” adds John Peets of management company Q Prime. “We haven’t had a dog miss anybody.”

Loudwire notes that noted that the Covid-sniffing dogs have been utilised to examine smaller groups of people, rather than entire audiences.

Research carried out in the UK last year, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), showed that people who are infected with  coronavirus have a distinct odour that can be detected by trained dogs with a high degree of accuracy.

Part-funded by the UK’s Department of Health & Social Care, the study used over 3,500 odour samples donated by the public and NHS staff, and indicated that a Covid-19 infection has a distinct smell, which specially trained dogs can rapidly, non-invasively detect with up to 94.3% sensitivity and up to 92% specificity.

“The advantage of using this method is being able to detect Covid-19 with incredible speed and good accuracy among large groups of people, even in asymptomatic cases,” said Professor James Logan, head of the department of disease control at LSHTM.


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