COVID-sniffing dogs now on duty at Miami International Airport

September 14, 2021
One Betta, a Dutch Shepard, sniffs a mask for the scent of COVID-19 at Miami International Airport on September 8, 2021 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Miami International Airport launched a 30-day pilot program this week with Cobra and One Betta, a pair of professionally trained COVID-19-detecting dogs.

Cobra, a Belgian Malinois, and One Betta, a Dutch Shepherd, have been trained to detect COVID-19 through a sniff test and to alert when it is present.

In a press release, the airport said the dogs have had hundreds of training sessions at the Forensic and Justice Center at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.

The canines have been trained to detect an odor produced by the metabolic changes in people infected with coronavirus, and can detect this odor in a person’s breath and sweat.

According to a published peer-reviewed, in double-blind trials the dogs accurately detected the virus 96-99% of the time.

"Being able to apply decades of research in this way, to provide an additional layer of protection to airport employees at Miami International Airport, it's humbling," Dr. Kenneth G. Furton, the FIU provost and a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said in a statement.

"These dogs are another valuable tool we can leverage to help us live with this ongoing pandemic."

The dogs will be used at an employee security checkpoint, where they will sniff the masks of each employee, if the virus is detected, the person will then be informed to get a rapid COVID test.

Though Miami is the first US airport to implement this measure, it isn't the first airport in the world to use dogs to sniff out potential cases of COVID-19, as in August 2020, Dubai International Airport deployed dogs to test samples from travellers visiting the country.

A month later, dogs were also used at Helsinki Airport as part of a voluntary program at an arrivals hall. 

No plans have been announced to use the detector dogs on the public at airport security checkpoints.

We want to hear from you! Email us at and follow @thejamaicastar on Instagram and on twitter @JamaicaStar, and on Facebook: @TheJamaicaStar.



Other News Stories