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COVID-19 sniffing K9s training in Florida

 Fifty dogs at a north Florida canine training facility are in line to be among the first in the country to be trained to sniff out the coronavirus. (Source: WJHG)
Fifty dogs at a north Florida canine training facility are in line to be among the first in the country to be trained to sniff out the coronavirus. (Source: WJHG) (WTVY News 4)
Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 1:22 PM CDT
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Fifty dogs at a north Florida canine training facility are in line to be among the first in the country to be trained to sniff out the coronavirus.

Jeff Minder is a former survival instructor for the Air Force. He has a patented 50 point dog training system and saw a need.

Q: "So, where do you think this virus sniffing dog will be valuable?”

Minder: “Immediately is churches, and then the airports where people feel safer traveling.”

Uzi is his personal dog and has compiled a record more accurate than testing.

“Their success rate at finding that virus is, actually, for the last two weeks, has been 100 percent. But it’s 95, 96 percent based on all the work I’ve done,” Minder said.

We weren’t exposed to the virus for this training session, and Minder won’t say how he got the virus samples, only that they were expensive.

"I don’t fear the virus, I don’t fear men, I don’t fear governments. I do what God put me on this earth to do without fear,” Minder said.

Depending on the breed, it will take anywhere from eight months to two years to train these dogs.

Once trained, adding the virus to a dog's portfolio can take up to an addition eight weeks.

“There are independent individual odors within that virus that these dogs are finding. We think we know exactly what part of the virus they are finding, but that's very hard to prove,” Minder said.

Working with scientists and public health officials, Minder believes his dogs can help prevent future pandemics.

“The first day the virus hits there," Minder said. "Now we’re searching the mail rooms, and we’re searching the airports, and we’re keeping people funneled in and we’re testing them now for these viruses.”

Minder says about half of the dogs in training already have a potential owner.

If the virus mutates, Minder tells us that the mutation will be on how it affects people, not on how it smells to a dog.

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