Sniffer dog wins top UK medal for Afghan work

Sniffer dog

Sniffer dog

FILE

Agency Report

A Royal Air Force dog who sniffed out mobile phones used to coordinate insurgent attacks in Afghanistan was on Tuesday awarded a British animal charity's top medal for gallantry.

The PDSA Dickin Medal was awarded to Hertz, a 10-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer who is now retired, for his work protecting British and coalition troops in 2013.

Hertz was the first dog in British military history trained to detect electronic communications equipment including mobile phones "which posed a significant threat to the lives of servicemen, women and civilians," said a PDSA statement.

"His exceptional skills undoubtedly protected troops from the ever-evolving advances in digital intelligence," said PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin.

"His actions changed the course of countless missions, saving the lives of military personnel and civilians."

Hertz received the award during a ceremony at the RAF Club in central London.

Born in Croatia, Hertz joined the RAF Police as a puppy after showing exceptional skills detecting drugs.

The military sought training help from the UK Prison Service which frequently uses dogs to sniff out electronic contraband.

Hertz and his handler, Warrant Officer Jonathan Tanner, deployed to Britain's sprawling Camp Bastion base in Helmand province which he "secured and protected against the threat of both an intruder and insider attacks," the PDSA said.

"Many of the items he found led directly to the gathering of intelligence about potential threats and attacks," it said.

"His ability to remove potentially dangerous items undoubtedly saved many lives."

During his 13-month tour of duty, there was not a single rocket attack on Camp Bastion.

"He is a one-of-a-kind and his story demonstrates just how important animals are to our armed forces, and the key life-saving roles that they play," said RAF Group Captain Russ Foster-Jones.

The PDSA Dickin Medal has been presented since World War II to animals that showed exceptional courage and devotion while serving in war. It is the highest award of its kind.

PDSA founder Maria Dickin first awarded the medal in 1943, since when it has been won by animals including 37 dogs, 32 pigeons, four horses and a cat.

AFP

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