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Livingston County dog trainers teach dogs to detect COVID-19

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 10:50 PM EDT
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TYRONE TWP., Mich. (WILX) - Dog trainers in Livingston County are now training their dogs to sniff out and detect COVID-19.

Lori and Jack Grigg are the founders and owners of Paradise Dog Training and have been in the business for more than 20 years.

They began with obedience classes, then expanded to therapy, diabetic alert dogs, and most recently scent detection for bed bugs-and now COVID-19.

“We have already been doing scent detection with our diabetic alert dogs. We just figured we’re going to jump right to what we know works- saliva samples,” said Jack Grigg.

The Griggs have received active samples of the virus from relatives who tested positive. When handling active COVID-19 samples, they make sure to take all safety precautions.

“We store them in a freezer. We glove up and we put masks on when we’re handling the virus,” she said.

The dogs are actively being trained four times a week.

Here’s how it works, they take an active sample and place it in a cup then into two small paint cans.

“We do that for two reasons. Number one, so the odor rises to the top of the can easier, and number two, when the dog puts his nose in that can, he does not come in contact with the pad," he said.

Then, they put out multiple cans of saliva samples that don’t have the virus and only one that does.

“Then we send the dogs around and they will pick out which one has the live virus,” said Lori.

Once the dog detects the virus, they sit. If they get it right, they get a treat.

“To be able to put out a different type of testing that’s out there, the dogs are fast. It’s invasive. There’s no pain involved with this type of test and you get results right away,” added Lori.

The Griggs say their training has been very successful; having an 80 to 85 percent accuracy.

They hope that scent detection for COVID-19 training will become regulated in Michigan soon. As of right now, there is no certification for COVID-19 scent detection for dogs.

If you want to learn more about Paradise Dog Training or send over a saliva sample, click here.

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