Bland County native trains dogs to detect COVID | Local news

MILLIE ROTHROCK | Bland County Courier

Shawn Reed, from Bland County, is not a doctor, nurse or scientist, but he is in the battle against COVID nonetheless. Reed does not use a stethoscope, steroids, or antivirals; instead, he uses what he knows best: dogs.

Anyone who has ever owned a dog knows that a dog’s smell is their super power. A dog’s nose can lead them to the disappearance of people, drugs, explosives and now COVID.

Reed is the director of training and operations for Bio Detection K9, an Ohio company that specializes in training dogs to detect COVID-19. The company’s dogs can detect if a person has the virus within 30 seconds with a success rate of over 98%.

Reed, a 2002 graduate of Bland High School, said dogs are trained to detect a protein that is part of the virus. People are advised to wear a face mask for at least 10 minutes before the test in order to provide a more concentrated sample to dogs. They then stand with the mask in their left hand as the dog walks by.

Masks aren’t necessary for dogs, but they do help, Reed said. Dogs are trained to target a person’s left hand whether they are holding a mask or not.

The word about COVID sniffer dogs is coming out with people in high places taking note. Country superstar Eric Church uses the company to test those who travel with him to ensure the group stays as healthy as possible. NASCAR also uses dogs for its pilots and crews. Other customers include the music groups Twenty One Pilots and Metallica. The Chicago Marathon also used Reed’s service.

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