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Paddy, a former police horse, has been nominated for a prestigious, posthumous award following his actions during the Black Saturday bushfires, which consumed over 450,000 hectares of land in Victoria, Australia, in February of this year.

The RSPCA Australia Purple Cross Award is awarded to exceptional animals that have been of outstanding service to humans, and have shown courage and valour in risking their own safety to save a person from injury.

Paddy, a Clydesdale who served with the Victoria Police under the name Gendarme and retired to the care of former mounted policeman Mike Salmon, protected a pet sheep and goat when the bushfires raged around his owner’s property near Myrtleford, North East Victoria on 7 February.

“Paddy was sheltering smaller animals on the farm,” Dr. Arthur Frauenfelder, president of the RSPCA’s Albury branch, told local newspapers.

“Mike was saving his house with the hose, and every so often he would go to where Paddy was with the other animals, hose him down, and then go back to the house.

“He was there with the other animals under him, and he shepherded them around.

“His police background helped him enormously – that’s what helped him to keep his calm.”

Paddy died last Tuesday (15 September) after he stumbled when being ridden by Mr Salmon.

Documents have been sent to the RSPCA Victoria and to the national body for consideration. Recipients of the award receive a medal and certificate.