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Finland's Covid-sniffing dogs get kennel club's Special Hero award

The dogs are scheduled to continue screening arriving passengers at Helsinki Airport until the end of the year.

Covid-19 sniffer dog E.T. Image: Matti Myller / Yle

The four Covid-19 sniffer dogs who work at Helsinki Airport screening passengers for the illness have received a Special Hero Dog Award from the Finnish Kennel Club for their work.

Every year the club hands out awards to heroic canines that have helped save lives, but this year Finland's coronavirus-sniffing dogs Kössi, Miina, E.T. and Valo, have received the club's Special Hero Dog Award. The dogs started work sniffing for Covid at the airport at the end of September.

"These four dogs are hero dogs in a league of their own. With their work, they have had a positive effect on people’s well-being around the world. These dogs also highlight the importance of dogs in society – nothing could replace our four-legged friends," Harri Lehkonen, the club's chair said in a statement.

Story continues after photo.

Koronakoira lentokentällä.
Covid-19 sniffer dog Valo Image: Matti Myller / Yle

The club cited research by University of Helsinki adjunct professor in clinical studies on companion animals, Anna Hielm-Björkman, which found that dogs can detect Covid-19 more quickly and reliably than lab tests. The canines were trained by Wise Nose, Finland’s Smell Detection Association.

The dogs are to continue working at the airport and testing arriving passengers with the help of skin swab samples until the end of the year, according to the club.

Story continues after photo.

Koronakoira Miina
Covid-19 sniffer dog Miina. Image: Sara Salmi / Yle
Susanna Paavilainen, Wise Nose executive director and the handler of galgo cross Kössi and Labrador retriever Miina, said that the dogs have been well received at the airport, adding that passengers and personnel often recognise the pups and greet them.

Kare and E.T. took part in Wise Nose’s cancer detection group when the epidemic began, according to E.T.'s handler, Anette Kare.

Covid-19 sniffer dog Kössi. Image: Sara Salmi / Yle

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