Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 16:24 UK

War hero dog's medal is auctioned

Rip the mongrel
Rip was found homeless and starving in 1940

A medal awarded to a stray dog which helped to find trapped survivors in London during the Blitz has been sold at auction for £24,250.

Rip the mongrel was awarded the Dickin Medal after helping to find more than 100 victims of air raids.

Found homeless and starving in 1940, Rip was adopted by an air raid warden based at Southill Street Air Raid Patrol in Poplar, east London.

The medal is considered the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

The founder of veterinary charity PDSA, Maria Dickin, began awarding the medals in 1943 to recognise animals which showed "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty".

Since its introduction, 62 have been awarded to dogs, pigeons, horses and a cat.

Dickin medal
Rip wore the medal on his collar for the rest of his life

The warden found the dog, which had no official training, was always on duty, never got in the way and was quick to locate casualties.

Rip's success was partially responsible for prompting the authorities, towards the end of the Second World War, to train dogs officially to trace casualties.

He died in 1948 and was the first of 12 "supreme animal heroes" to be buried in the PDSA cemetery in Ilford, Essex.

The medal was auctioned at Spink in central London.

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