Covid-sniffing dogs deployed in Alameda County


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(Image courtesy Alameda Health System)

(KRON) – COVID-19 virus detection dogs are being deployed at some Alameda County health centers.

“Scarlett, a three-year-old yellow Labrador and medical detection dog, along with her canine companion Rizzo, were recently doing their chores and making friends at Park Bridge Rehabilitation and Wellness,” Alameda Health System officials wrote.


The mobile dog pair is part of a pilot program to identify cases within the county's health centers. These adorable dogs received warm reactions from clients and staff members at Park Bridge Rehabilitation & Wellness.

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(Image courtesy Alameda Health System)

“We were excited to partner with Early Alert Canine (EAC) for this pilot and give our residents and staff the opportunity to cuddle and socialize with Scarlett and Rizzo after the trial,” said Luzviminda Lukban, an associate administrator for the rehab. Loved the opportunity.”

Yellow Labs are trained to sniff near a person's feet, ankles, or lower legs. If they detect a COVID smell, Scarlett and Rizzo will immediately sit down and alert their handler.

Health officials said the yellow labs' noses can detect “volatile organic compounds associated with COVID-19.” Health officials said Scarlett and Rizzo have undergone rigorous training, with an average accuracy identification rate of 94 percent. Dogs can smell around 300 people in 30 minutes.

Park Bridge residents and staff members were pre-screened to ensure they were not allergic to or afraid of dogs. Along with Scarlett and Rizzo, they are also the humans who administer COVID-19 antigen tests when needed.

In 2021 EAC partnered with the California Department of Public Health in a program to train and deploy COVID detection dogs in Bay Area schools. The next phase will focus on vulnerable populations in skilled nursing facilities.

Training each dog costs about $50,000 and can take up to a year.

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