PO Box 1803, Makawao, HI 96768 | (808) 298-0167 | info@assistancedogshawaii.org
ADH Assistance Dogs to Help in Fight Against COVID-19 - Assistance Dogs Hawaii

ADH Assistance Dogs to Help in Fight Against COVID-19

Assistance Dogs of Hawaii (ADH), a Maui-based nonprofit organization, and The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu, are participating in a major research study to teach dogs to detect coronavirus in people and help prevent the spread of infection. Phase 1 of the study is underway and includes using sweat samples to teach dogs the scent of COVID-19. Hundreds of positive and negative samples are needed for COVID scent detection research here in Hawaii and for our research partners in the United Kingdom. (Press Release)

Volunteers Needed: You Can Make a Difference!

Volunteers on Oahu and Maui are currently being recruited for the study.  Since the virus is not transmissible through sweat, participation in the study poses no risk of infection to people or the dogs. It’s safe and simple to participate.

Volunteers must:

  • Be age 18 or over.
  • Have a coronavirus nasal swab test.
  • Swab their neck for 10 seconds, place swab in a sample cup and into a sealed ziplock baggie from a kit provided by ADH.
    *Note: Samples must be collected within 72 hours of nasal swab test

Oahu Residents – contact The Queen’s Medical Center at 808-691-8761 or by emailing canine@queens.org.     

Maui Residents – contact Assistance Dogs of Hawaii at 808-298-0167 or by emailing info@assistancedogshawaii.org

Meet the Super Sniffers

Four dogs at Assistance Dogs of Hawaii are currently being trained to detect if someone has COVID-19 and could play a vital role in helping prevent the spread of infection in the islands.

Age: 5
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Temperament: Intelligent, confident, intuitive
Favorite Things: Hiking, car rides, puppucinos
Birthplace: Maui
Nickname: The Diva

Age: 2
Breed: Golden Retriever
Temperament: Funny, affectionate, sociable
Favorite Things: Tennis balls, swimming, playing
Birthplace:  Australia
Nickname: The Class Clown

Age: 1 1/2
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Temperament: Easy going, loves to learn, eager to please
Favorite Things: People, sniffing, napping
Birthplace: Australia
Nickname: The Sweetheart

Age: 1 1/2
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Temperament: Focused, energetic, determined
Favorite Things: School, friends, learning
Birthplace:  Australia
Nickname: The Professor


Who are the research partners?

This research partners include Assistance Dogs of Hawaii, The Queen’s Medical Center, Medical Detection Dogs UK, and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Who is leading the Hawaii project?

Dr. Todd Seto is the Director of Academic Affairs and Research at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu. ADH Executive Director Maureen Maurer, has a Master of Science in Canine Studies and was the principal investigator in a 2016 study to detect life-threatening bacterial infections in humans.

Why dogs?

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and are one of the world’s best biosensors. They have over 300 million scent receptors and their olfactory acuity is over 100,000 times stronger than humans. This, combined with their ability to learn has made them valuable allies in detecting bombs, drugs and various types of disease. Since 2014, ADH has participated in research studies on the capacity of dogs to identify disease and published the first study on dogs detecting bacterial infections in humans.

How will dogs be able to help?

Once trained, the goal is to share the protocol with other agencies and scale the study for COVID-19 detection dogs to be deployed to airports and other public places to provide rapid, non-invasive screening for COVID-19.

When and where will the dogs be trained?

Dogs will be trained on the ADH main campus on Maui over the next two to three months.

Is the study safe for dogs, volunteers and researchers?

The dogs in Hawaii are being trained to detect COVID-19 in sweat samples, which does not carry the risk of transmission to animals or humans.