Animals

Retired Military Dog Awarded Animals' Victoria Cross

Kuno was given the medal for his role in a compound raid against al-Qaeda in which he suffered severe injuries.

A retired Military Working Dog (MWD), who suffered life-changing injuries while supporting British forces fighting al-Qaeda, has been awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

During the operation in 2019, Kuno, a Belgian Shepherd Malinois, was deployed in support of specialist UK and host nation forces on a compound raid. 

Coming under attack, and pinned down by grenade and machine-gun fire from an insurgent, the assault force found themselves unable to move without taking casualties.

Kuno then charged through a hail of gunfire to tackle the gunman, allowing the mission to be completed successfully.

Despite turning the tide of the battle, Kuno was injured by bullets in both back legs and received lifesaving treatment from his handler and medics in the back of a helicopter.

His injuries were so extensive he required several operations before he was stable enough to return to the UK for his retirement, and due to infection, both of his rear paws had to be amputated.

Now safely back in Britain, he is the first UK MWD to be fitted with custom-made prosthetic limbs.

Kuno, 4, was formally presented with the PDSA Dickin Medal by the vet charity's director general Jan McLoughlin during a virtual ceremony on Tuesday.

Kuno is the first UK MWD to be fitted with custom-made prosthetic limbs (Picture: PDSA).

“Kuno is a true hero," said Ms McLoughlin.

"His actions that day undoubtedly changed the course of a vital mission, saving multiple lives in the process. And despite serious, life-changing injuries, he performed his duty without faltering. 

"For this bravery and devotion to duty, we are honoured to welcome him as the latest recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Kuno "undoubtedly saved lives that day".

"I am very proud of the role our military working dogs play on operations at home and abroad. Kuno’s story reminds us of the lengths these animals go to keep us all safe," he added.

Kuno is the 72nd animal to have been awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal.

As well as dogs, other animals to receive the honour include horses, pigeons and a cat. 

The medal is the highest award any animal can achieve while serving in military conflict. 

Cover image: Kuno with his PDSA Dickin Medal (Picture: PDSA).