The PDSA awards two different types of medals the Dickin medal for service dogs and the gold award for bravery for civilian dogs.
The PDSA Dickin Medal, recognised as the animals’ Victoria Cross, is awarded to animals displaying conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units. The PDSA Dickin Medal is the highest award any animal can receive whilst serving in military conflict.
The Medal, which can only be considered on receipt of an official commendation, has been awarded 64 times since 1943. The recipients comprised 32 pigeons, 28 dogs, three horses and one cat.
The PDSA Gold Medal is the highest honour for outstanding animal bravery and exceptional dedication in civilian life. Eligibility is open to any animal instrumental in saving human or animal life when its own life is in jeopardy or to any animal killed or seriously injured while carrying out official duties in the face of armed and violent opposition.
The Medal bears a depiction of a laurel wreath and the words: For Gallantry or devotion to duty’. Instituted in 2002, the Medal is now widely recognised as the animals’ George Cross.
To date all 19 recipients awarded the PDSA Gold Medal have been dogs. Each of these canine heroes has proven that they are indeed man’s best friend.
Below are the stories of the recipients of the Dickin medal, followed by the Gold Award. Information correct as of November 2012.
To me some of the assignments to Dickin or gold award are a little arbitrary, with in one case guide dogs being awarded a Dickin medal and a dog serving on board a military vessel (albeit a Norwegian one) a Gold Award. But whatever the award these animals received, they deserve recognition for their work and sacrifice on our behalf. If anyone can add details about any of these brave dogs, please let us know.
Search and Rescue ( SAR) Dogs are trained to find missing people by various means such as air scenting, trailing and tracking. These are very efficient methods of searching large areas quickly and does not always require items of clothing or effects of the missing person, depending on how the dogs have been trained.
Several search dogs have been awarded the Dickin Medal for bravery, including Irma and Jet two German shepherd dogs who located trapped people in the Blitz of 1945. For further details of canine recipients of this prestigious award see separate article.