Animals’ VC Presented Posthumously To Canine Hero Killed On Service In Afghanistan

In a special ceremony at Kensington Town Hall today attended by actress and PDSA Ambassador, Joanna Page, the PDSA Dickin Medal – known as the animals’ Victoria Cross – was posthumously awarded to Military Working Dog, Sasha.


Manchester – WEBWIRE – Friday, May 23, 2014
Sergeant Major Andy Dodds and Fire with members of the late Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe’s family
Sergeant Major Andy Dodds and Fire with members of the late Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe’s family

For over 70 years, PDSA has recognised the gallant and lifesaving deeds of animals ‘who also serve’. By continuing this tradition today we are fulfilling our founder’s mission by helping to raise the status of animals in society.

In a special ceremony at Kensington Town Hall today attended by actress and PDSA Ambassador, Joanna Page, the PDSA Dickin Medal – known as the animals’ Victoria Cross – was posthumously awarded to Military Working Dog, Sasha.

The medal was instituted by veterinary charity PDSA in 1943. It is the highest award any animal can receive while serving in military conflict.

Sasha, a Labrador who was four-years-old when killed along with her handler, is the 65th PDSA Dickin Medal recipient, and the first since 2012.

It was accepted on Sasha’s behalf by her former handler Sergeant Major Andy Dodds and retired Military Working Dog, Fire, who was also injured in Afghanistan and made an amazing recovery from serious injuries.

Sasha was initially deployed in Afghanistan with Sergeant Andy Dodds (now Sergeant Major) of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps attached to the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment.  Their primary role was to search in advance of patrols, providing safe passage for soldiers, uncovering hidden weapons, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and bomb-making equipment.

Sasha’s determination to search and push forward – despite gruelling conditions and relentless Taliban attacks – was described as a morale boost to the soldiers who entrusted their lives to her weapon-finding capability.
On one occasion recalled by regimental colleagues, Sasha was searching a building in Garsmsir when she detected two mortars and a large quantity of weaponry, including explosives and mines. This find alone undoubtedly saved the lives of many soldiers and civilians.

In May 2008, Sasha was re-assigned to Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe and deployed to Kandahar on further duties. During their time together they forged a unique bond, locating numerous IEDs. They were considered the best handler and dog team in the region. On 24 July 2008 Sasha and Lance Corporal Rowe were returning from a routine search operation when their patrol was ambushed. They survived the first attack but a second tragically claimed both their lives.

During her time in Afghanistan Sasha made 15 confirmed operational finds. Her actions saved many soldiers and innocent civilians from death and serious injury.

Today’s ceremony was attended by colleagues and relatives of Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe.Colonel Neil Smith QHVS, Director of the Army Veterinary and Remount Services, said: “The Royal Army Veterinary Corps is honoured and delighted that Sasha has been recognised with a PDSA Dickin Medal. Our soldiers and their dogs do a tremendous job, a job that saves countless lives. It is an honour to share this important day with Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe’s family to recognise the work that he and Sasha undertook before being tragically killed. I am pleased that Sasha’s previous handler, WO2 Andy Dodd, is able to receive the medal on her behalf.”

Actress and PDSA Ambassador, Joanna Page, who attended today’s PDSA Dickin Medal ceremony, said: “Sasha’s story is an uplifting and poignant example of the lifesaving work carried out by dedicated animals alongside our armed forces.  This outstanding bravery and devotion to duty epitomises what the PDSA Dickin Medal has stood for since its inception in 1943. I am honoured to present Sasha’s PDSA Dickin Medal today.”

Commenting on the award, PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin, said: “We are immensely proud to honour Sasha with the PDSA Dickin Medal. It is the highest award any animal can receive for lifesaving bravery in conflict. Without doubt, her heroic actions in Afghanistan saved many lives.

“For over 70 years, PDSA has recognised the gallant and lifesaving deeds of animals ‘who also serve’. By continuing this tradition today we are fulfilling our founder’s mission by helping to raise the status of animals in society.”

Lyn Rowe, Kenneth’s mother, said: “Kenneth was a big animal-lover from a young age and thought the world of the dogs he served alongside. He would be proud to know that Sasha’s hard work, devotion and lifesaving actions were being recognised with the PDSA Dickin Medal.”

Sasha’s posthumous presentation brings the total number of PDSA Dickin Medals awarded to animals in war to 65. Since the introduction of the Medal by PDSA founder Maria Dickin CBE in 1943 it has been awarded to 29 dogs (including Sasha), 32 World War II messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat.

PDSA is the UK’s leading veterinary charity. With 51 pet hospitals across the UK providing vital care for over 470,000 animals a year, the charity is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of pets and their owners. Since it was established in 1917, PDSA has provided 100 million free treatments to more than 20 million pets in need.

As well as providing vital treatment and care for hundreds of thousands of pets and improving animal welfare, PDSA is also dedicated to recognising the contribution animals make in society and has the most prestigious animal bravery awards programme in the world.


( Press Release Image: http://photos.webwire.com/prmedia/42902/188115/188115-1.jpg )


WebWireID188115




Contact Information
Mary Bawn
Head of PR
PDSA
(44) 01952 204748
Bawn.Mary@pdsa.org.uk


This news content may be integrated into any legitimate news gathering and publishing effort. Linking is permitted.

News Release Distribution and Press Release Distribution Services Provided by WebWire.