Highest honour for a canine hero

Liam Tasker's mum Jane Duffy with search dog Grace. Jane accepted Theo's award.
Liam Tasker's mum Jane Duffy with search dog Grace. Jane accepted Theo's award.

A HERO military dog, who died just hours after his handler was killed in Afghanistan, has been awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Theo, who had formed a hugely successful partnership with Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, from Kirkcaldy, was honoured with the posthumous presentation of the PDSA Dickin Medal last week.

It is the highest award any animal can receive in recognition of conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty in saving human life while serving in military conflict.

The award was accepted by Sergeant Matthew Jones - who served alongside L/Cpl Tasker - and search dog Grace at a ceremony in Wellington Barracks, London.

Theo was deployed with Lance Corporal Tasker as part of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps’s 1st Military Working Dog Regiment during conflict in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011.

During his service, Theo made 14 confirmed operational finds, the most any arms and explosives search dog has found to date.

On March 1, 2011, Theo and Lance Corporal Tasker were on a mission in support of the Irish Guards in the Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand, when a fire-fight broke out, killing Lance Corporal Tasker.

Theo was being taken back to Bastion when he started having seizures. Despite immediate first aid and veterinary treatment he unfortunately died.

Michael Bolton, PDSA chairman, said: “We are proud to honour Theo with the highest award any animal can receive for life-saving bravery in conflict. Without doubt, Theo’s actions in Afghanistan saved many human lives.”

Jane Duffy, Liam’s mother, added: “Liam loved his dog and I believe that he would have been immensely proud to know that Theo’s life-saving loyalty and devotion to duty have been recognised.”