Livingston County dog trainers teach mutts to sniff out, detect COVID-19

Paradise Dog Training in Livingston County's Tyrone Township trains dogs to do everything from sniffing out bed bugs and blood sugar changes for diabetics to hearing, assistance, and therapy.

 But now Lori and Jack Griggs are using a trusted technique to detect COVID-19 and they claim it's working. 

"The opportunity to help people. We think this is a non-invasive, fast way in reading to determine if someone has COVID-19 or not," Lori Griggs said.

When everything shut down during the pandemic, the Griggs decided that would be a perfect time to re-train some of their dogs to detect the coronavirus.

"The dogs already knew how to hunt and search," Jack said. "All we did, was change the odor on them. We used saliva samples from people who actively had COVID-19."

The Griggs say they take every precaution when they are handling positive samples they received from relatives who have tested positive from COVID-19.  The saliva soaked cotton pads are kept in the freezer.

When it is time for daily training, they place cotton pads with, and without the virus, into clean paint cans. The dogs then go to work.

"You put their nose in the can and sit. Once they have that down, you put an empty can with nothing in it (and) put that next to what we call a dirty can," Jack said. "If he puts nose in the clean can ignore we ignore it. Soon the dog realizes they get rewarded when they put the nose in the can that smells like this."

When the dog finds the can with the virus - it sits.

"It's phenomenal we have two of our dogs alerting and id say 90 percent accurate," he said.

"They do it for food anything for a treat they are game to do," Lori said.

And the noninvasive quicker way of detection could be a game-changer when it comes to determining who has COVID-19. The Griggs say two senior facilities are already looking to hire the dogs at their facilities.

"Anywhere where they are testing for COVID-19," she said. "We could see schools, nursing homes, airports, assisted living anywhere - baseball games, football games." 

The biggest challenge is getting the odor samples from people who have tested postive for COVID-19. If people wanted to donate their saliva or use the services - contact Paradise Dog Training. They say the dogs are ready.

The style of Covid detection is not regulated yet, but it could be a matter of time. Training like this is underway in other states and the country of Finland is using it at Helsinki Airport.

To learn more about Paradise Dog Training CLICK HERE.