DARTMOUTH (CBS) — When it comes to canines, the nose usually knows.

That is why the Bristol County Sheriff’s Department is now using Duke and Huntah, nine-month-old lab step-siblings, to sniff out something so unique — the coronavirus.

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“They’re trained specifically on COVID. COVID gives an odor, like everything else in the world,” said K-9 officer Ted Santos.

COVID K9 Huntah (WBZ-TV)

In a demonstration by the sheriff’s office, the dogs found the virus on common surfaces like a refrigerator and an office chair.

They’re trained by using masks that have been worn by COVID-positive individuals. It’s the same premise as canines trained to detect drugs, bombs, or accelerants, and it always ends with a reward.

The Bristol County Sheriff’s department is the first law enforcement agency in the country to use the dogs as another tool to combat the virus.

“We’re anxious to get going with any community requests we get,” said Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.

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The hope is to deploy the dogs in places like schools and town buildings. New Bedford fire chief Scott Krueger says he’s also interested in using the dogs to help with decontamination for first responders.

“This is a decontamination tool. We’re not trying to diagnose anybody,” said K-9 officer Capt. Paul Douglas.

By turning to the canine COVID detectors, the hope is to further protect the community.

“Their olfactory senses are superior to ours. It’s a level that’s incredible,” said New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Krueger.

The dogs underwent 10 weeks of training, and the department is confident in the accuracy.

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“It’s all about the science,” said Hodgson.

Beth Germano