Hero Dog Awards - Cobra


Miami, Florida

Cobra is part of an advanced research and training program at Florida International University, serving as proof of concept for research including detection of a highly elusive and deadly pathogen for avocado trees and COVID-19. The Belgian Malinois was first trained to detect laurel wilt in avocado trees, a disease spread by a tiny beetle (about the size of Lincoln’s nose on a penny). Before Cobra, avocado growers could not find infected trees until the tree was already dying. With early detection, Cobra’s nose has helped save groves throughout Florida’s economically important avocado industry. Following the success of this program, Cobra headed to Hawaii, successfully sniffing out a different fungus attacking the state’s iconic ohia trees. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cobra has been trained to sniff out the virus — the first dog in the U.S. to gain certification specific to COVID-19. Certified by a panel of external examiners, based on protocols set by the Scientific Working Group on Dog and Orthogonal Detector Guidelines, Cobra has worked COVID detection at FIU, the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Miami International Airport and PortMiami. Her efforts, with a greater than 97 percent accuracy, are helping to keep our communities healthy and safe while proving there are no limits to what a dog’s nose can do. She is just one dog, but the research she contributes to is giving rise to a new era of scent detection possibilities.