In a first for the country, the Indian Army is using its dogs for quick detection of COVID-19 to cut down time delays associated with regular diagnostic techniques.
The canine members of the armed force are known for their pronounced olfactory capability and have earlier helped in explosive and narcotics detection, search and rescue operations, and other challenging tasks. Now, they have another job.
Two dogs, two-year-old cocker spaniel Casper and one-year-old Jaya, a ‘chippiparai’, which is an indigenous breed from Tamil Nadu have been trained to detect COVID-19 by sniffing samples of sweat and urine, senior Army officials said.
A demonstration of their skills using real samples was held on Tuesday on the premises of the 48 Military Veterinary Hospital at Delhi Cantonment. Their handlers were wearing full PPE kits.
Lt Col Surinder Saini, instructor at the Dog Training Facility of the Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre in Meerut, said these dogs are “pioneering canines” of not just the Army, but of entire India.
“Countries like the UK, Finland, France, Russia, Germany, Lebanon, the UAE and the US have already trained dogs for detection of COVID-19. Dogs have been previously used abroad to detect malaria, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, but this is the first time canines have been used for medical detection in India,” he told reporters.
To a question on where the dogs are being deployed, Saini said that after their training in September,…