More than 16 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel industry continues to get creative with the way it is dealing with the virus.
Miami International Airport (MIA) this week announced that is collaborating with the Global Forensic and Justice Center (GFJC) at Florida International University (FIU) and American Airlines to install a trial program of COVID-19 detecting dogs at the airport.
The airport will host the two dogs—Cobra, a Belgian Malinois, and One Betta, a Dutch Shepherd—for a 30-day pilot program.
The dogs are potentially able to immediately detect and alert to the virus in public spaces. The virus, according to FIU, causes metabolic changes in a person that produces compounds excreted by a person’s breath and sweat, which allows the dogs to alert to the virus.
The two will be stationed at airport security, the same place that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has traditionally deployed canines. If the dogs are able to detect a person who may be carrying the virus, security will pull the person aside to get a rapid COVID test.
According to Miami International, the dogs were able to detect COVID during their training sessions at a rate from 96% to 99%. According to Miami’s Mayor, should the program prove successful in actual practice, it could expand beyond the airport.
“The pandemic has pushed us to innovate to stop the spread,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a statement announcing the program. “We’re proud to do everything we can to protect our residents. I look forward to seeing how the airport tests their skills and expanding the pilot program to other County facilities.”
While Miami will become the first U.S. airport to use the dogs, others internationally have been using them for some time, including Dubai’s main airport.