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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 December, 2003, 14:14 GMT
Medal for 'bomb sniff' dog
Buster and medal
The award was introduced during the Second World War
A dog has been awarded the animal "Victoria Cross" for sniffing out hidden bomb-making equipment in Iraq.

Buster, a five-year-old springer spaniel, broke an armed resistance cell in the southern Iraqi town of Safwan with his discovery in March.

The Army search dog received the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal from Princess Alexandra at the Imperial War Museum on Tuesday.

Proud handler Sergeant Danny Morgan, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, based at Aldershot in Hampshire said it was a massive honour for Buster and other dogs deployed in Iraq.

Sgt Morgan, 37, who describes Buster as his best friend, usually looks after him at home, where he is also a family pet for his five-year-old daughter Emma and wife Nicki, a 32-year-old nurse.

Sergeant Danny Morgan with Buster
We would never have found the weapons without him and they would still be a threat to our troops
Sgt Danny Morgan

He said of the medal-winning incident: "The soldiers had found nothing so I unleashed Buster and sent him in.

"Within minutes he became excited in a particular area and I knew he'd discovered something.

"Buster found the arms even though they had hidden them in a wall cavity, covered it with a sheet of tin then pushed a wardrobe in front.

"We would never have found the weapons without him and they would still be a threat to our troops and the local population."

Outstanding bravery

The stash included Russian AK47 assault rifles, a pistol, six grenades, fuses, ammunition and large quantities of cash, two kilograms of cocaine and pro-Saddam literature.

There have been no attacks in the town since Buster's discovery and soon afterwards troops were able to replace their steel helmets with soft berets.

Buster is only the 24th dog to receive the PDSA Dickin Medal and his award marks the 60th anniversary of the honour, which was inaugurated by the PDSA's founder Maria Dickin in December 1943 to recognise outstanding bravery of animals in World War II.

The award is the highest decoration for gallantry that can be bestowed on any animal member of the British and Commonwealth forces.

So far it has been presented to 59 animals - 32 pigeons, three horses and one cat as well as 23 dogs.





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SEE ALSO:
Buster sniffs out Iraqi weapons stash
01 Apr 03  |  Middle East
War medal given to hero dog
20 Dec 02  |  England



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