COVID detection dogs are being used by multiple big-name acts to try and help ensure their tours don’t get shut down midway through.
As Rolling Stone reports, the likes of Tool, Metallica, the Black Keys and Eric Church have taken to bringing along dogs that are apparently trained to sniff for traces of the coronavirus within the bands’ crew, touring party and anyone else backstage.
The solution was utilised by Metallica for their 40th anniversary shows in San Francisco last month. A team of four German Shepherds will be used on a US tour Church has just embarked on, and another team of dogs will be used on Tool’s forthcoming run. The dogs are overseen by Bio-Detection K9, an Ohio-based company that describes itself as “the leader in COVID-19 canine detection.”
According to Rolling Stone, after six weeks of training, the dogs are taught to sniff people’s hands and feet, and sit down if they detect the virus. With the Omicron variant, the process needed to be adapted as the virus localises in the bronchial passageways – the dogs now sniff people’s masks instead.
The tests are limited to 200 people an hour, can be conducted at venues multiple times a day, and according to Bio-Detection K9, the average cost of a dog test is $2 per person. The company claims their dogs were “98-99% accurate” in studies using clinical samples along with human beings.
“People say, ‘What’s that dog doing?’” Bio-Detection K9 president Jerry Johnson told Rolling Stone. “It surprises them and they’re pessimistic, but if you understand the instincts of a dog’s behavior, it makes a lot of sense. 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.”
“We’ve had them get a couple of local guys who thought they were negative,” Church’s production manager Malcolm Weldon says of the dogs’ use on a tour last year. “Then those guys went and had a PCR test and it came back that they were positive.”