The program was approved on March 2021 through Miami-Dade’s Aviation Department with the partnership of the Global Forensic and Justice Center (GFJC), Florida International University (FUI), and American Airlines. It is part of the airport’s program to curb the spread of the virus.
The two 7-year-old dogs were trained at FIU’s campus using protocols they created from decades of research to detect odors of different kinds from bomb detection to illicit drugs to various types of diseases.
Kenneth Furton, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the university, said the dogs were provided face coverings from infected and non-infected individuals. The masks were first treated using Ultraviolet-C light to inactivate the virus without changing the odors of the COVID-19 virus.
The dogs were then trained to sweep an area and alert the researchers to the presence of particulates and aerosols that are left on surfaces by people infected by the virus. They conducted double-blind trials and the results showed a 96% to 99% accuracy.
“Everybody, including humans, are wrong at some point. But, they’re almost never wrong”, Furton stated regarding the two dogs.