Army dog awarded highest honour for bravery during Taliban raid
Heroic hound was injured by three grenades but still managed to get troops to safety
A British special forces dog was awarded the highest military medal an animal can receive for saving the lives of Special Boat Service troops during their 2012 operation to remove armed Taliban forces from a multi-storey building in Afghanistan.
Mali, a Belgian Malinois, received the PDSA Dickin medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross which is the UK’s highest honour for gallantry, reports The Guardian.
After being wounded by three grenade blasts, Mali still managed to find the locations of enemy fighters. This gave British troops the time they needed to react during eight hours of close-quarters combat.
The eight-year-old dog was sent through direct fire twice and hoisted up the outside of the building to provide the assault force with a foothold. He sustained injuries to his chest, ear, front and rear legs and lost a front tooth after three explosions went off near him.
“Despite sustaining quite horrendous injuries, he absolutely stayed by his handler’s side and forged forward with them to help them carry out their duty,” Jan McLoughlin, director of the PDSA veterinary charity told the Telegraph. “It’s that gallantry and devotion to duty that we are recognising.”
Cpl Daniel Hatley trained Mali when he was a puppy. He told the Guardian, “I am extremely proud of Mali. The way he conducted himself when it mattered most enabled my colleagues to achieve success in close combat.”
Mali’s handler during the raid, who cannot be identified for security reasons, was also awarded a gallantry medal.
He said that Mali saved the lives of British and Afghan troops as they fought up floor by floor of the building. The dog went ahead to see if he could a find a safe route and stopped soldiers from entering an area filled with booby traps.
“By the time we launched on to this operation we really felt that we had a guardian angel amongst us, nothing was going to happen to us,” he told the Telegraph.
Mali becomes the 69th recipient of the award recognising animal bravery, since it was introduced in 1943. Previous winners were 32 dogs, 32 world war messenger pigeons, four horses and a cat.
During a visit to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mali was caught chewing his prestigious award, proving he’s not letting the fame go to his head just yet.