Celebrating Animal Heroes ‘Who Also Serve’

To mark this year’s Armed Forces Day (Saturday 27 June) PDSA has been taking the opportunity to remember all the heroic animals who have served, and continue to serve, alongside the men and women in our Armed Forces too.

Named after the charity’s founder Maria Dickin, the PDSA Dickin Medal acknowledges outstanding acts of life-saving bravery displayed by an animal serving with the armed forces or civil defence units in any theatre of war throughout the world. The PDSA Dickin Medal has been awarded 71 times and is the highest award any animal can receive for service in military conflict. It is recognised and the animals’ Victoria Cross.

The latest recipients of the PDSA Dickin Medal include Kuga, the first ever Australian dog to be honoured in this way. Kuga, a Military Working Dog who served with the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in Australia, received the posthumous award in 2018 for his remarkable actions while on duty in Afghanistan in 2011.  Kuga indicated the presence of an enemy ambush, concealed among trees alongside a river. Kuga swam into the river to apprehend the enemy and, in doing so, was shot five times. He survived and was returned home to Australia, though he died less than a year later.

Mali, a British Military Working Dog who helped save the lives of troops in Afghanistan, also received the prestigious PDSA Dickin Medal in 2017. Mali went through direct fire on two separate occasions to conduct searches for explosives. He also indicated the presence of insurgents numerous times, giving the assault force vital milliseconds to engage the enemy in close-quarter combat, undoubtedly saving lives. His gallantry and devotion to duty made him a worthy recipient of the award.

They join a select group of heroic military working animals going back all the way to World War II, when the Medal was first instituted. Historic recipients include Pointer, Judy, the only official canine prisoner of war, who saved many lives in Japanese prison camps through her protection of soldiers, using her intelligence and watchfulness. US Army Pigeon GI Joe received the Medal for flying 20 miles in 20 minutes, bringing urgent troop movement updates and saving one hundred Allied soldiers from being bombed by Allied planes.

Previous story with Simon the cat can be found here.

The Medal is a large bronze medallion bearing the words ‘For Gallantry’ and ‘We Also Serve’ all within a laurel wreath. The ribbon is striped green, dark brown and sky blue, representing water, earth and air, to symbolise the naval, land and air forces.

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk/appeal.

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