A courageous canine has been honoured for his bravery during a military operation in Afghanistan and awarded the prestigious PDSA Dickin Medal – the “animal Victoria cross”.
Mali, a Belgian Malinois attached to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC), was presented with the accolade in London following the operation in 2012.
The eight-year-old dog, trained to sniff out explosives and detect insurgents, assisted in securing a key enemy stronghold.
He was twice sent through direct fire to conduct searches for bombs and continued to work despite being injured after three grenades went off.
PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin praised his “awesome ability and determination” and declared the animal “an incredibly worthy recipient” of the accolade. He is now the 69th winner.
:: Other heroic animals include:
White Vision, Winkie and Tyke: The three pigeons were the first recipients of the Dickin Medal after serving with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. They all played a part in the rescue effort to save ditched air crew members, flying for hours in harsh conditions to deliver messages.
Simon: A Royal Navy cat – the only feline recipient of the Dickin Medal – who was honoured after surviving injuries from a cannon shell, killing rats on board HMS Amethyst, protecting food rations and raising morale. He was awarded for his role in a naval siege in the Yangtse River in 1949 when the vessel came under fire from Chinese forces, costing the lives of 17 sailors.
Balto: The Siberian husky led a team of dogs transporting vital medicine to the Alaskan town of Nome, preventing a diphtheria epidemic in 1925. The pooch travelled more than 500 miles across Alaska in time to save the city. He soon became a household name, with a statue erected in New York less than a year after the trek. In 1995, Balto’s story was turned into an animated film starring Kevin Bacon.
Binti Jua: The female western lowland gorilla made headlines in 1996 after she rescued a three-year-old boy who had fallen into her enclosure at Brookfield Zoo, Illinois. She cradled the unconscious youngster in her arms and guarded him from other gorillas before carrying him 60ft to an entrance for zookeepers to retrieve him.