Hero Special Forces Dog Receives Animal Victoria Cross

A military dog who helped save the lives of Special Forces troops in Afghanistan will today receive the Dickin Medal - the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Mali has been recognised for his actions in Afghanistan in 2012.

The eight-year-old Belgian Malinois was helping SBS and Afghan troops clear a building in the capital Kabul following a high-profile Taliban attack, when he was seriously injured during the operation.

Mali Dicking Medal
Mali was injured by three grenade blasts

Mali was sent through direct fire on two separate occasions to conduct searches for explosives. 

During the operation, he was also hoisted up the outside of the building several times to provide the assault force with a key foothold to attack the insurgents.

The Special Forces teams sustained a number of casualties during the assault and Mali was seriously injured.

Three grenade blasts caused injuries to his chest, front and rear legs and a further blast detonated close to his face, which caused the loss of Mali’s front tooth and damaged his right ear.

Despite these injuries, Mali continued with the mission, which ended successfully for UK forces.

Dickin Medal recipient Mali in Afghanistan
Mali on operations in Afghanistan

Mali's handler at the time, whose identity has been protected for security reasons, was awarded a gallantry medal for this action during the operation.

Commenting on Mali's PDSA Dickin Medal, the charity's Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said:

"Mali has displayed a truly awesome ability and determination to seek out explosives and insurgents during a key operation.

"To achieve this while exposed to close combat and such intense enemy attack, makes him an incredibly worthy recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal."

Mali Dickin Medal

Mali's current handler, Cpl Daniel Hatley, who also trained the Belgian Malinois as a puppy said:

"I am extremely proud of Mali. The way he conducted himself when it mattered most enabled my colleagues to achieve success in close combat."

"Being awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal recognises Mali's vital role within the force that day."

Mali, who is now attached to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC), will be the 69th recipient of the award. 

Other recipients include 32 World War Two messenger pigeons, 32 dogs (including Mali), four horses and a cat.

Mali the hero dog
Mali is the 32nd dog to receive the prestigious award

This year is a special year for the charity PDSA as it is 100 years since its inception. 

Mali will attend a closed ceremony later today in which he will formally be awarded the Dicken Medal, plus a 'centenary' bar, to mark the charity's birthday. 

The medal itself is a large bronze medallion bearing the words "For Gallantry" and "We Also Serve". The ribbon is striped green, dark brown and sky blue representing water, earth and air to symbolise the naval, land and air forces.

It is the highest accolade an animal can receive. 

Mali the hero dog
This year's medal has an extra special centenary bar added

Brigadier Roly Walker, Head Army Strategy and Colonel Commandant of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps said: 

"As long as we've had soldiers we've had animals; and I think we will always have them.

"Today's award of a PDSA Dickin Medal to Mali recongnises this unique bond."


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