(WEHT) — Dogs are already used to sniff out diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and malaria.
Now, a trial in the United Kingdom aims to have dogs sense coronavirus patients.
Eyewitness News spoke to Lauriston Crockett, the CEO of Genostim Performance Labs, about this study.
Brandon Bartlett: Lauriston, thanks for joining us tonight.Those of us who have dogs know that they are truly remarkable creatures. Some can sniff out cancer and other diseases and now we’re learning they may be able to detect COVID-19 Is that true?
Lauriston Crockett: This is absolutely true. There’s actually a study going on right now in England. They’re testing with six different dogs, spaniels and Labradors to find out if we can actually trace the COVID-19 virus.
Brandon Bartlett: Wow. Well, how are they able to do that? And do they have to be trained and then tested as you said?
Lauriston Crockett: there is a study going on, and there’s following the same protocol that they did when they were finding out that dogs could actually detect malaria. So dogs compared you know, humans have 6 million sensory receptor sites in our nose, but dogs have 350 million so they’re amazing, amazing creatures.
Brandon Bartlett: We’re talking about trained dogs and not pets that we have at home. Is that right? So I shouldn’t be concerned if my dog jumps on me and sniffs me that I might have the Coronavirus?
Lauriston Crockett: No, you know, all dogs have the DNA of a wolf, so they all have the same sensory. So your dogs actually have to be trained with this. And right now we’re hoping that the study will be over in September and if they are the amazing thing is we can have hundreds of dogs and entry ports and airports picking up if somebody is walking in and coming into the country with the COVID-19 virus. So this is a game changer.
Brandon Bartlett: This is something that is being studied right now. How long do you think it will be before we possibly start using these doctor dogs?
Lauriston Crockett: You can also call them a medical detection dog or a bio dog. They’re being used right now, believe it or not in hospitals to pick up on bacterium, and also lethal pathogens. So they’re being used in hospitals right now. So it’s not something new. It’s just the next step that makes sense that we should be doing this. But again, the study will be over in September. So by the first of the year, we can have hundreds of dogs actually trained with this protocol.
Brandon Bartlett: Wow. Well, some may wonder, are we putting those dogs at risk of themselves getting sick?
Lauriston Crockett: Well, now some dogs have been tested positive for COVID-19. The good thing is that they are asympotmatic, and so they’re not showing any symptoms. They’re testing positive. We’re not so worried about their health compared to cats; they are actually having health issues.
Brandon Bartlett: Why is that?
Lauriston Crockett: You know, I really can’t tell you, you know that cats are their own little breed, wholly different things. You can’t even mix a shampoo between a dog and a cat because of the DNA the way that they’re actually created. So I can’t tell you that I don’t have that knowledge. I don’t know that anybody does. We just know that our cats are having bigger problems, like the three lions and the three tigers in the Bronx Zoo that came down with COVID-19 and it was passed on by their handler.
Brandon Bartlett: Wow. Well, this, as you said, would obviously be a game changer, especially for dogs being used at airports and other public places. How many dogs could be trained and any idea when?
Lauriston Crockett: Well, like I said, there could be hundreds of dogs trained by early next year, and the training will come right here in America. Right now, we are training like I said in England to do the study. And as soon as that’s done and the protocol is set up, then all dogs will start training that will qualify for this type of service.