PDSA Gold Medal dogs
To date, only dogs have received the PDSA Gold Medal for bravery or devotion to duty.
Faithful family dogs Ellie and Jones have become the 20th and 21st recipients of the PDSA Gold Medal – recognised as the animals’ George Cross – in recognition of their life-saving actions when their owner became ill.
Their amazing story began in November 2010 as their owner, Les Parsons, who has (Type 1) diabetes, took the two dogs for an evening walk in remote country lanes near their home. Les’s blood glucose levels suddenly dropped and he went into what is known as a ‘hypo’, due to his condition. The situation was made worse as he was not carrying any sweets to remedy the condition, or a mobile phone to summon help.
Increasingly desperate, Les tried to get home via a short cut but his blood glucose levels fell lower. He attempted to crawl home but began drifting in and out of consciousness. Ellie and Jones tried to encourage their master by licking, nudging and pawing at him, but Les was unable to continue.
One-year-old Ellie remained at Les’s side while two-year-old Jones ran home to alert Les’s wife Joanne and daughter Fiona. When they realised something was wrong, he led them back to where Les had collapsed.
An ambulance was called and Les was rushed to hospital, in a diabetic coma and suffering from hypothermia. Thankfully, he was allowed home after treatment, having suffered no lasting damage.
Commenting on the award, PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin said: “This is a remarkable case in which two family pets faced an extraordinary situation. With no training to help them, it appears they acted as a team to save their master. One dog ran home to fetch help, while the other stayed with the owner.
“We will never know exactly how or why they reacted in this way. But their actions probably saved Les’s life and we are delighted to honour them with the PDSA Gold Medal.”
On Sunday 29 April 2007, George, a 14 year-old Jack Russell terrier was walking with his neighbour’s children when they were approached from behind by two Pit Bull Terriers.
The dogs were loose and moving quickly towards one of the younger children. George, who had been walking ahead of the group, turned around and faced the Pit Bulls. The brave little Terrier ran at the dogs, barking all the time as they closed in on him. Thanks to George’s intervention the children were able to escape but they could do nothing to help the dog that had saved them.
Reluctantly, due to the trauma George had suffered, George’s owner, Alan Gay, agreed to have George put to sleep.
George’s bravery in the face of danger and his determination to protect the safety of his young friends prevented serious injury and potentially saved the lives of all five children.
On Saturday 12 August 2006, 73 year-old Mark Corrie took his daughter’s dog, Bosnich (Bos), for their regular walk in Gelt Woods near Brampton in Cumbria. But when he failed to return by the expected time, Mark’s daughter, Lorna Farish, called the police. For two days police search dogs and volunteers from mountain rescue teams scoured the district for man and dog, but without success.
Local walkers Susan and Jim Burns and Sheila and Fred Brown decided to investigate a dog howling on the south side of Cumrew Fell, some seven miles from Brampton. At the top of the first ridge, they spotted Bos whose howl changed to a persistent bark. Bos led them to where Mark Corrie was lying. He was cold, confused and suffering from dehydration, but miraculously unhurt.
Bos stayed at Mark Corrie’s side as they waited for the emergency services.
Penrith Mountain Rescue Team praised Bos for his actions and said that without the dog keeping the pensioner warm and his determined howling and barking Mark Corrie might not have been found.
On the morning of Monday 19 December, devoted pet dog Ghillie was enjoying a morning stroll on the local bridle path with his owner’s mother, Mary Wilson, when Mrs Wilson suddenly collapsed. Seeing her lying unconscious, Ghillie wasted no time in running for help. His constant barking attracted the attention of a team of engineers from Scottish and Southern Energy, who realised the dog was determined to show them something. Following Ghillie along the path the men discovered Mary lying unconscious, but breathing, next to a ditch.
Mary was carefully transferred to Balfour Hospital where, happily, she made a full recovery.
Ghillie’s determination to gain help for Mary after her fall secured her rescue and undoubtedly saved her life.
Vinnie and his handler, PC Dave Coleman, were already on duty in the City when they were urgently deployed to the terrorist explosion at Russell Square tube station. Vinnie immediately began a search for secondary explosive devices in order to establish a clear and safe route for medical assistance to reach the many casualties.
Overcoming choking smoke and poor visibility, Vinnie then searched the mile-long route from Russell Square to the bomb-damaged train at Kings Cross and completed a reoccupation search of Kings Cross station.
Despite the horrendous devastation and human trauma, Vinnie did not hesitate in carrying out his duties. His skills and tireless devotion to duty were instrumental in restoring public safety and he proved invaluable throughout this tragic event.
Hubble Keck, affectionately known as Jake, and his handler, PC Robert Crawford, were deployed to Tavistock Square, where casualties needed urgent attention after a bomb explosion on a double-decker bus.
Jake immediately began a search of the street leading to the bus. Working through shattered glass and twisted metal, he secured a safe route for an explosives officer to investigate a suspect device on the bus and for paramedics to reach injured passengers. Jake also then secured an area close to the bus to enable a makeshift field hospital to treat casualties.
Jake was later redeployed to search the mile-long route from Russell Square to the bomb-damaged train at Kings Cross and then to search through the wrecked train.
Despite significant danger, Jake worked tirelessly and remained undaunted by the work presented to him. His skill, control and unstinting devotion to duty protected members of the public and the emergency services from harm, and his presence proved invaluable throughout this tragic event.
Billy and his handler, PC Rob Brydon-Brown, were deployed to what they believed to be a train crash at Aldgate tube station. They were met by a sea of casualties and from the nature of the injuries it was clear that there had been an explosion.
Billy was tasked to secure the scene by searching the length of the underground tunnel. Despite immense heat and poor visibility, Billy remained constant to his duties and did not falter.
Billy remained on call throughout the day and attended 21 locations in response to alerts from the public. Working tirelessly and in the face of danger, his skills and determination to protect the public and the emergency services proved invaluable throughout this tragic event.
For saving the life of two members of the crew of Royal Norwegian Navy minesweeper, Thorodd, and for his unstinting devotion to duty as ship’s mascot during WWII.
In the winter of 1941, Lieutenant Commander Olav August Johan Nilsen was walking along the dockside in Dundee when he was set upon by a man wielding a knife. Bamse, who was accompanying the Lieutenant, immediately ran towards the assailant, knocking him into the water. Witnesses confirmed that it was Bamse’s decisive and effective action which saved Lieutenant Commander Nilsen’s life.
On an autumn morning in 1942, Bamse was on duty aboard Thorodd, again docked in Dundee. He was the only crew member to see a sailor fall overboard and, realising the danger, he tried to alert other crew members by barking loudly. When no help arrived, Bamse overcame his fear of heights and water to dive into the cold and murky sea. He swam towards the distressed sailor, who clung to Bamse’s thick coat, and brought the man safely to the dockside. Had Bamse not acted so quickly and with such calm efficiency, the sailor, who could not swim, would have drowned.
As loyal mascot of the minesweeper Thorodd Bamse displayed outstanding gallantry and devotion to the crew. His name was mentioned three times in the PDSA Allied Forces Mascot Club history and his reputation as life-saver and devoted wartime companion has secured this dog a special place in the hearts of the people of Norway and Scotland.
For displaying outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty while carrying out official duties with their handler, Neil Powell, as part of the Northern Ireland Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA).
In March 1999, Dylan saved the lives of four students lost for several hours on the mountains of Mourne. Despite exceptionally poor weather conditions, Dylan located the group stranded on a ledge 250 feet above ground level. He stayed on duty until the rescue team had lifted everyone to safety.
Later, in November 1999, Dylan worked in Duzce as part of the UK Fire Service Search and Rescue team and the International Rescue Corps following the earthquake in Turkey. Dylan located two people buried alive in the rubble. Crawling between floors, climbing ladders and spanning dangerous voids, this dog never wavered from his duties.
Cracker, Dylan’s brother, was also part of the 1999 Turkish earthquake search team locating bodies trapped in the debris. His ability to locate the deceased gave families the opportunity to pay their last respects to loved ones.
Cracker is the only dog in the UK trained to locate bodies in water. His skills have helped locate four people, bringing closure and peace of mind to grieving families.
On 18 May 2003, University student Cheryl Smith and her Golden Retriever Orca were enjoying an afternoon in the countryside. Orca was running, as he always did, alongside Cheryl’s wheelchair.
Suddenly, the powered wheelchair hit a rock on the pathway and pitched Cheryl sideways down a 15-foot embankment into a water-filled ditch. The wheelchair followed, landing directly on top of Cheryl who was pinned, face-down in the cold rainwater and unable to move.
Cheryl knew she was in a desperate situation. Trained to stay by Cheryl’s side, Orca remained on guard duty until Cheryl instructed him to “get help”.
The first person Orca approached mistook him for a lost dog and attempted to walk him home. Breaking free of his collar, Orca ran on and, by chance, met Cheryl’s neighbour, Peter Harrison out jogging. Peter could tell Orca was trying to encourage him to follow the canal path and as he followed the dog, Peter saw Cheryl lying in the ditch.
Orca took his place at Cheryl’s side as Mr Harrison called the Fire Brigade for emergency assistance. The rescue services confirmed that Orca’s remarkable skills, and unstinting devotion that day saved Cheryl’s life.
On 8 March 2005, police dog Blue and his handler Police Constable David Proctor were called to assist in the search of a wooded area near Wakefield for a violent suspect wanted for theft.
A short time after they started the search, officers observing from the police helicopter reported that Blue had located the suspect but had been attacked with a knife. Despite sustaining severe injuries, Blue continued to do his duty. He followed the man to his hideout and stood guard until PC Proctor and a colleague arrived. He then assisted in the disarming and arrest of the suspect, continuing his diligent surveillance until the man was placed in a police vehicle.
Blue sustained two deep stab wounds in his left shoulder but never wavered from his duties. His actions resulted in the detention of an armed offender and he defused a volatile situation that could have resulted in the loss of human life.
On 14 April 2005 Zoltan and his handler Police Constable Andrew Lawton were called to join the Armed Response Unit at an incident in Stockton where a man was threatening police officers and members of the public with a knife.
Officers had repeatedly attempted to calm the situation and disarm the man before deploying Zoltan. The police dog’s determined efforts were very effective but resulted in Zoltan being stabbed in the chest. The distraction this created resulted in the assailant being disarmed and taken into custody.
Zoltan sustained an eight-inch stab wound to his chest and underwent emergency surgery to repair two damaged arteries and a severed chest muscle. During the operation he lost one-fifth of his blood. Happily, Zoltan went on to make a full recovery and soon returned to active duty.
Endal, the Canine Partner of Gulf War veteran Allen Parton, was awarded the PDSA Gold Medal in recognition of his remarkable skills, his unique companionship and the unstinting devotion to duty that saved Allen's life in so many ways.
When Allen - a naval engineer - suffered brain injuries in a car accident during the Gulf War in 1991, he could not walk, was unable to speak, read, write or remember any aspect of his life. A chance introduction to Endal changed his future as Endal became the inspiration and motivation behind Allen's rehabilitation.
Endal became Allen's partner in the home, on the street and at work and he rekindled Allen's enthusiasm for life. On 24 May 2001, Endal carried out one outstanding act of devotion. Allen was knocked out of his wheelchair in a hotel car park and left unconscious on the ground. Endal did not panic. Instead, he calmly manoeuvred Allen into the recovery position, covered him with a blanket from the wheelchair and pushed the mobile to Allen's face. Only when Allen regained consciousness did Endal leave his side to summon help.
Monty - a Metropolitan police dog - was rewarded with a PDSA Gold Medal for Animal Gallantry and Devotion to Duty in recognition of his gallantry following an armed siege in London.
Monty was instrumental in overpowering a man who had been wielding a knife and threatening his handler PC Stuart Judd. Monty was stabbed several times by his attacker but continued to do his duty.
Monty required emergency surgery after the event in February 2001 but just weeks later was ready to resume active duty.
Bulla - a Leicestershire police dog - was killed in the line of duty in May 1990. He was apprehending a man brandishing a butcher's knife and threatening civilians and police officers. Sadly Bulla was stabbed through the neck and into the heart. Despite all efforts to save him, Bulla died at the scene.
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