Friday, 7 September 2012

Hero Dog Theo Honoured With 'Victoria Cross'

An Army explosives sniffer dog who died hours after his handler was killed in Afghanistan is to be given a posthumous award.
Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26, from The Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, was shot by insurgents on March 1 last year while on patrol in Helmand Province with his dog Theo, who died of a seizure shortly afterwards.
The pair, who were said to have been inseparable, detected a record 14 Taliban roadside bombs and weapons caches in five months and are believed to have saved countless lives.
Their role was to provide search and clearance support, uncovering hidden weapons, improvised explosive devices and bomb-making equipment.
Springer spaniel Theo is to be awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, known as the animals' Victoria Cross, for his "heroic actions".
The award is said to be the highest accolade any animal can receive in recognition of devotion to duty in saving human life while serving in military conflict.
It was first instituted by the veterinary charity's founder, Maria Dickin, in 1943.
L/Cpl Tasker, from Tayport in Fife, was posthumously honoured with an MBE in September last year.
Theo made the most confirmed operational finds by any arms and explosives search dog in Afghanistan to date.
On one occasion, he is said to have discovered an underground tunnel leading to a room in which insurgents were suspected of making bombs and hiding from coalition forces.
Speaking after an inquest in Trowbridge, Wiltshire last year, L/Cpl Tasker's mother, Jane Duffy, said the fact her son and Theo had "worked together and died together" brought her some comfort from knowing they were "somewhere together now".
PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said: "We are very proud to posthumously award Theo the PDSA Dickin Medal, the highest award any animal can receive for life-saving bravery in conflict.
"Theo's exceptional devotion to duty as a military working dog in Afghanistan saved countless human lives.
"The award of this medal, recognised worldwide as the animals' Victoria Cross, honours his service in life and his sacrifice in death.
"It serves as a very poignant reminder of the loyal companionship and dedication of man's best friend."

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