Miami International Airport (MIA) this week announced a 30-day pilot program to use COVID-19 detector dogs, becoming the first U.S. airport to test the disease sniffing canines.
The detector dogs are specially trained with protocols created by the Global Forensic and Justice Center at Florida International University (FIU) and will be deployed at an employee security checkpoint.
After hundreds of training sessions at FIU’s Modesto Maidique Campus in Miami earlier this year, the detector dogs achieved accuracy rates from 96-99 percent for detecting COVID-19 in published peer-reviewed, double-blind trials.
The COVID-19 virus causes metabolic changes in a person, including the production of volatile organic compounds that result in a scent that trained dogs can detect. If a dog indicates an individual is carrying the odor of the virus, that person is directed to get a rapid COVID test.
Detector dogs have long been used by federal and local agencies at MIA to detect prohibited currency, drugs, explosives and agriculture.
“The COVID-19 detector dog pilot program is the latest effort by MIA to serve as a test bed for new innovations in safety and security,” said Ralph Cutié, MIA interim director. “We are proud to do our part in the fight against COVID-19, and we hope to see this pilot program potentially benefit the rest of Miami-Dade County and airports across the country.”