By: Elizabeth Millner | WCTV Eyewitness News
April 3, 2020
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- We've seen dogs sniff for drugs, bombs, diabetes, and even cancer, but can man's best friend sniff out coronavirus?
With a shortage of tests kits available to the public, a dog training school is training their pups to be the next best thing.
At Top Tier K-9, dogs are learning to sniff for the virus so they can use their skills in restaurants, waiting rooms, vehicles and other public areas so businesses can use this tool before re-opening.
"What we want to do is make sure that when you are clean, you know the facilities you are going into have been swept as well so the dog can also be used to sweep areas and identify COVID-19 virus so it can be cleaned," said CEO and founder of Top Tier K-9, Jeff Minder.
The dogs are put in a 12-week program, where they learn advanced obedience, bite work, scent detection, tracking and more.
The training works just like a playful game.
"The odor comes out of the source, the dog can smell it when he puts his nose in and he gets a food reward for finding the right
odors," said Minder.
The dogs train to be "foundation dogs," and once they are trained, they are able to go to a specialized field, such as a bomb detection, drug detection or coronavirus detection later on.
However, Minder explains that it does depend on the dog's personality and drive.
"It all starts with basic obedience cause the dog has to understand certain commands and certain obedience to the owner before we can just free them up to go find odor," Minder said.
Travis Lloyd, who is completing the training with his own dog, explains that the program has been rewarding.
"I spent about eight years in Afghanistan as a government contractor and came back with PTSD. I needed a service dog and when I saw the quality of dogs that foundation dogs are producing, I knew that that's
what I wanted to do," said Llyod.
His 13-week old dog has been doing great as a result of the training course.
Meanwhile, Minder is currently in discussions with state and federal authorities but he said he has about 70 dogs ready to go.
Top Tier K9 has training facilities in Tallahassee, Valdosta, Gainesville, and Madison.
For more information on their services, click here.