People have found a new use for “man’s best friend”: COVID-19 detection. An Ohio-based firm, Bio Detection K9, has been using dogs to detect COVID backstage on a variety of high-profile music tours over the last year.
In an effort to prevent the virus from postponing or canceling tours, artists like Black Keys, Metallica, Tool, and Eric Church have recruited the pups to screen performers, crew members, and production staff as an extra layer of precaution. After a successful stint with the Black Keys, Church employed the dogs for his entire 2021 fall tour. Seeing the success, Metallica then used the service for its shows in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Atlanta, GA, as well as the band’s two-night, 40th-anniversary gigs at San Francisco, CA’s Chase Center (12/17, 12/19).
“So far, knock on wood, the dogs have been knocking it out of the park,” John Peets of Q Prime, Metallica and Eric Church’s management company, told Rolling Stone. “We haven’t had a dog miss anybody.”
“Everyone at the loading dock gets sniffed,” Church’s production manager, Malcom Weldon, added. “We’ve had them get a couple of local guys who thought they were negative. Then those guys went and had a PCR test and it came back that they were positive.”
Church will continue to use the dogs on the 2022 portion of his Gather Again tour, while Tool (and a variety of other acts) will tap into an additional pool of dogs when it kicks off its 2022 tour at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, OR on January 10th.
Bio Detection K9 president Jerry Johnson, an Air Force veteran who worked with dog teams while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s, told Rolling Stone that the company has 12 dogs in service with at least seven or eight more currently in the process of a six-week training period. The company boasts a 98–99% accuracy rate in double-blinded validation studies, and since they can test up to 200 people an hour, are far cheaper than traditional testing. While the dogs have previously sniffed hands and feet, the quickly-spreading Omicron variant has forced the company—and dogs—to adapt. Instead, the dogs sniff masks to detect the new variant.
“The new variation is different,” Johnson explained to Rolling Stone. “It localizes in the bronchial passageways. So the dogs weren’t nearly as accurate the way we had been searching. We had to change it up.”
With the recent COVID-related postponements and cancellations spreading throughout the industry, it will be interesting to see how these dogs can be used to keep the shows rolling while maintaining an acceptable amount of safety. The music industry will need this type of adaptation and ingenuity to successfully emerge from nearly two years of rolling shutdowns.
For more information on Bio Detection K9 and its services, head to the company’s official website.
[H/T Rolling Stone]