UK army dog killed in Afghanistan to be given posthumous medal

Written by PTI | London | Updated: Apr 30 2014, 00:25am hrs
Sasha, a British Army dog killed alongside her handler in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan will be honoured with what is called the highest military award for an animal.

The four-year-old yellow Labrador who was trained to hunt out explosives, is credited with saving the lives of scores of soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan.

She will be awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, which a charity says is the animal version of the Victoria Cross, the BBC reported.

She died alongside Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe on July 24, 2008 when their routine patrol was ambushed by a rocket- propelled grenade attack.

Sasha was deployed with handlers from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, attached to the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment.

Alongside her handler, she was tasked with carrying out advance patrols to find safe routes for soldiers and sniffing out weapons and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

"Sasha's determination to search and push forward - despite gruelling conditions and relentless Taliban attacks - was a morale boost to the soldiers who entrusted their lives to her weapon-finding capability," The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) said.

In 2008 she was assigned to 24-year-old Rowe and the pair were considered the best in the Kandahar region. Sasha had 15 confirmed finds of IEDs, mortars and hidden weaponry.

Col Neil Smith, director of the Army Veterinary and Remount Services, said: "This prestigious award recognises how her devotion and skills undoubtedly saved the lives of many troops in Afghanistan, and acknowledges the excellent work our military working dogs and their handlers do.

Sasha is the 65th animal to be awarded the medal since it was launched in 1943.

"This medal, recognised worldwide as the animals' Victoria Cross, honours both Sasha's unwavering service and her ultimate sacrifice," Jan McLoughlin, director general of PDSA, UK's leading veterinary charity, said.

"Her story exemplifies the dedication of man's best friend and reminds us all of the amazing contribution they make to our lives," McLoughlin said.