A British Army dog who found a hidden cache of arms, explosives and bomb-making equipment during the recent conflict in Iraq, has been awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross at a special ceremony in London today.

Buster, a five-year-old Springer Spaniel, is believed to have saved the lives of countless civilians and military personnel by finding the guns, grenades and ammunition hidden behind a false wall during a search of Safwan town in Southern Iraq.

Sergeant Danny Morgan, Buster’s regular handler, explains how Buster’s work helped in Iraq: “A large number of extremists were arrested as part of the dawn raid in which Buster found the weapons.

“These terrorists had had a hold over the local community and once they were arrested the locals became much more relaxed. We were able to remove our hard hats and patrol in just a berets for the first time, as a result of the raid.”

The trained search dog was among around 20 dogs drafted in to Iraq to help British Forces. He is the 60th animal to receive the PDSA’s (Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals) Dickin Medal in recognition of his outstanding devotion to duty.

Buster was awarded his medal, which is inscribed “For Gallantry”, by the PDSA’s patron, Princess Alexandra, at the Imperial War Museum.

After the ceremony Sergeant Morgan told HHO: “We are very proud of the work done by all the dogs in the 101st Military Working Dogs section, including Buster, and to receive this award is a great honour.”

The pair have been working together since June 2002 and their operations to date have included the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations and the commonwealth games in Manchester, as well as time in Iraq.

“Buster is a great dog with a fantastic temperament and as with most of the military dogs, the more operational time they receive the less phased they become. He has really enjoyed all the attention today and I’m sure he can’t wait to get back to work,” says Sgt Morgan.

The PDSA Dickin Medal, which was launched by the PDSA’s founder Maria Dickin in 1943 following World War II, has previously been awarded to 23 other dogs, as well as three horses, 32 pigeons and one cat.

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