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Metallica and Tool Employ COVID Sniffing Dogs for Tour Safety

  • Axl Rosenberg

‘Twas a time not so long ago when the last thing any touring musician wanted was a specially-trained dog hunting for something around them or anyone in their company. How times have changed.

So. This sounds made up, but it’s apparently a really real thing: there’s a company called Bio-Detection K9 that trains dogs to sniff out COVID and then provides those dogs to people/entities for whom such a service would be useful. These entities include Metallica, who used the dogs for several recent concerts, and Tool, who have employed the canines for use on their U.S. tour, which kicks off tonight (and whose lead singer, Maynard James Keenan, has already had COVID twice, so he could clearly use the extra protection).

According to Rolling Stone, the company asserts that their animals are 98%-99% effective, and that “preliminary data indicates that the COVID detector canines were more effective than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests at detecting early asymptomatic infections.”

To be clear: the dogs are not used to smell concertgoers with COVID, presumably because that would take way too long. They are used on anyone backstage, including the band and their crew.

Those undergoing testing/smelling are asked to line up at a socially distanced, uh, distance, at which point they remove their mask. The dog smells the mask, and if the person has COVID, the dog sits.

Assuming this works as well as they say it does, I mean, hey, it seems like a swell idea for bands that can afford it (I don’t know what the rates are, but if Metallica and Tool are employing them, let’s assume they’re out of Gatecreeper’s price range).

Having said that, I have three questions:

i) Has a tired dog ever produced a false positive simply by virtue of sitting at an inopportune time?

ii) Doesn’t this necessitate that all those being sniffed have a second mask on them? I mean, I don’t want a dog sticking its nose all over something that is then going next to my mouth… let alone after it’s stuck its nose in ten other people’s masks.

iii) Can the dogs be trained to sit for a particular person regardless of whether or not they have COVID? In other words, can someone theoretically pay Bio-Detection K9 to provide a dog that will never ever allow, say, I dunno, Vince Neil to never take the stage again? Again, just asking theoretically. Not suggesting someone should do this nudge nudge wink wink.

You can read Rolling Stone‘s entire report here.

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