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Defence

News Article

Lucky and Sadie awarded the 'animal VC'

26 Jan 07

The heroic actions of two dogs will be honoured next month with the presentation of the PDSA Dickin Medal, the animals' Victoria Cross.

British Army sniffer dog Sadie, with her handler, Lance Corporal Karen Yardley [Picture: British Army]. Opens in a new window.

British Army sniffer dog Sadie, with her handler, Lance Corporal Karen Yardley
[Picture: British Army]

The two dogs will be honoured by leading veterinary charity PDSA on 6 February 2007 at a special ceremony to be held at the Imperial War Museum, London. The presentation will be made by PDSA Patron, HRH Princess Alexandra.

The PDSA Dickin Medal will be presented to eight year old black Labrador, Sadie, a Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) arms and explosives search dog, for her gallant exploits in Afghanistan.

A posthumous award will go to German Shepherd, Lucky, a Royal Air Force (RAF) Police tracker dog, on behalf of the four RAF tracker dogs that tirelessly worked in the Malayan jungle between 1949 and 1952.

Corporal Bevel Austin Stapleton and his RAF Police tracker dog Lucky [Picture: British Army]. Opens in a new window.

Corporal Bevel Austin Stapleton and his RAF Police tracker dog Lucky
[Picture: British Army]

RAVC search dog Sadie, will be accompanied at the ceremony by her handler, Lance Corporal Karen Yardley. They have worked together for two years and completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan:

"I'm thrilled Sadie has won the Dicken medal for bravery, she's a lovely dog and I'm very proud of her."

In November 2005, Sadie located a booby-trap bomb concealed in a pressure cooker. The bomb was concealed behind a two-foot thick concrete blast wall within the United Nations compound in Kabul, Afghanistan. Rebels planted it under a pile of sand bags and planned to kill rescue workers minutes after a suicide bomb blast.

The "secondary" device was packed full with high explosives and attached to a remote-control detonation device. After the initial explosion, Sadie and handler Lance Corporal Karen Yardley, 26, were rushed in to search and secure the area. Sadie found the bomb then sat by it so that Karen could assess the situation. Her discovery saved possibly hundreds of soldiers and civilians from death and serious injury.

"The Medal is recognised throughout the world as the animals' Victoria Cross and is the highest award any animal can receive for bravery in the line of duty."

PDSA Director General Marilyn Rydström

A bomb disposal team destroyed the device with a controlled explosion, outside a United Nations HQ in the Afghan capital Kabul.

An Army spokesman said:

"Hundreds of Our Boys owe their lives to Sadie's keen nose and we're very proud of her. She definitely deserves an honour and the Dickin medal is not to be 'sniffed' at."

Lucky's posthumous award will be accepted by RAF war veteran Corporal Bevel Austin Stapleton, the loyal German Shepherd's handler and partner.

During the Malaya Campaign, Lucky and his canine colleagues, Bobbie, Jasper and Lassie were instrumental in the capture of hundreds of communist terrorists including, in February 1951, the notorious gang leader Lan-Jang-San. This one terrorist was responsible for the death of many local people. The determination and jungle tracking skills of the four dogs lead to his capture, preventing further casualties.

PDSA Director General Marilyn Rydström, said:

British Army sniffer dog Sadie, with her handler, Lance Corporal Karen Yardley [Picture: British Army]. Opens in a new window.

British Army sniffer dog Sadie, with her handler, Lance Corporal Karen Yardley
[Picture: British Army]

"We look forward to honouring both Sadie and Lucky with the PDSA Dickin Medal. The Medal is recognised throughout the world as the animals' Victoria Cross and is the highest award any animal can receive for bravery in the line of duty. Sadie and Lucky are, without doubt, worthy recipients."

Sadie and Lucky will bring the total number of PDSA Dickin Medals presented to animals in war to 62. Since the introduction of the award by PDSA's founder Maria Dickin CBE in 1943 it has been awarded to 24 dogs, 32 World War II messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat.

In March 2002 three PDSA Dickin Medals were awarded at Ground Zero in New York. Guide dogs Salty and Roselle received their Medals for devotion to duty, in guiding their blind owners out of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. New York police Search and Rescue dog, Appollo, represented some 300 canine colleagues when he accepted his Medal for service to humanity in tirelessly searching for life following the terrorist attacks at Ground Zero and the Pentagon.