Metallica and Tool Are Using COVID-Sniffing Dogs for Their Shows

James Hetfield by Alberto Cabello, dog by Found Animals Foundation, via Flickr.

The most frustrating part of the COVID pandemic is how quickly we’re learning about new effects, capabilities, and traits of this awful virus. One minute, we think we’re finally going to beat this thing; the next, mask mandates and lockdowns are back as a new variant rears its ugly head and scientists say that, yeah, maybe get double boosted. Now, some of metal’s biggest bands are using a new testing tactic that may seem strange to some, but makes a certain sort of sense — COVID-sniffing canines.

As reported by Ultimate Classic Rock, big acts like Metallica and Tool are using dogs to sniff out COVID-19 and its variants in their crew members. Metallica used dogs for both their recent Fort Lauderdale gig and their 40th anniversary shows in San Francisco.

“People say, ‘What’s that dog doing?’” says Bio Detection K9 Incorporated CEO Jerry Johnson, whose company trains and outsources these dogs. Apparently, after around six weeks in the company’s training program, the dogs learn to sit when they smell the virus on someone’s hands and feet. “It surprises them and they’re pessimistic, but if you understand the instincts of a dog’s behavior, it makes a lot of sense. Dogs sniff each other to see if that other dog has a virus. We’re training them to look for something they’d be interested in anyway.”

While this might sound a little antiquated to some — dogs sniffing out diseases definitely has a wooden-wagon-selling-medicine kind of vibe to it — folks in the music industry have come to swear by it.  “So far, knock on wood, the dogs have been knocking it out of the park,” said John Peets of Metallica’s management company Q Prime. “We haven’t had a dog miss anybody. Dogs are more accurate than the tests.”

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Words by Chris Krovatin