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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Animal's Victoria Cross given to dog killed in conflict

Story today published in VNonline that we felt should be shared:    

Animal's Victoria Cross given to dog killed in conflict. A military working dog killed on patrol in Afghanistan will be awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal for life-saving bravery in conflict.


Sasha and Lance Corporal Rowe were known as the best dog-handler team in their region.


Soldiers entrusted their lives to four-year-old Labrador Sasha, who boosted morale with her determination to push forward in gruelling conditions and relentless Taliban attacks.
Along with handler Sergeant Andy Dodds, Sasha's main role in Afghanistan was to search in advance of patrols - uncovering hidden weapons, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and bomb-making equipment - providing a safe passage for soldiers.
Overall during her time in Afghanistan, Sasha made 15 confirmed operational finds, saving the lives of countless soldiers and civilians from death and serious injuries.
Sasha developed a particularly strong bond with Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe when she was assigned to him in May 2008. The pair were deployed to Kandahar where they were considered the best handler and dog team in the region.
He says: "The award is even more poignant as we approach the centenary of World War One and we are reminded of the huge debt we owe the animals who serve in times of conflict…"
"Sasha's story exemplifies the dedication of man's best friend and reminds us all of the amazing contribution they make to our lives."
The medal was first introduced in 1943 by PSDA founder Maria Dickin CBE. Since then it has been awarded to 29 dogs (including Sasha), 32 World War Two messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat.



Regimental colleagues remember one occasion where Sasha searched a building in Garmsir and found two mortars and large amounts of weaponry, including mines and explosives.

Sadly, on July 24, 2008, Sasha and Lance Corporal Rowe were both killed when their patrol was ambushed twice as they returned from a routine search operation.
The PDSA Dickin Medal will be awarded posthumously in May. It is the highest award any animal in the world can receive for bravery in military conflict.

PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin says it honours Sasha's "unwavering service and her ultimate sacrifice." 

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