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PDSA Gold Medals awarded
L-R: Jo Parsons, Jones, Ellie and Les Parsons
Two faithful family dogs have received the PDSA Gold Medal, the UK’s highest animal award for bravery and devotion (excluding military) after saving their diabetic owner who lost consciousness in woodland on a cold November night.
German Shepherd crosses Ellie (age 3) and Jones (age 4), who belong to the Parsons family of Bridgwater, Somerset, worked as a team to help save their owners’ life. Today they were presented with the PDSA Gold Medal for bravery at a ceremony in London. This award is widely regarded as the animal equivalent of the George Cross.
Their amazing story began in November 2010 as 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.
Les decided to take a short cut home; although it was getting dark, he felt confident that the dogs would help guide him home safely. But he became weaker, colder and was unable to carry on.
The dogs were usually inseparable, but as Les slipped in and out of consciousness, one dog, Ellie, remained at his side licking and nudging him, while the other, Jones, ran a quarter-of-a-mile home to alert Les’ wife Joanne and her daughter Fiona that there was a serious problem.
Jones then led them back to the spot where Les had collapsed, and they found Ellie sitting by his side. 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 story, 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."
Jan added: "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."
Ellie and Jones join an elite group of the world’s most courageous companions. Since its inception in 2001, the PDSA Gold Medal has now been awarded to 21 heroic animals. Recipients include police dogs injured during armed attacks, explosives search dogs and animals on duty during the 7/7 attacks in London, plus a dog that saved lives by raising the alarm during a house fire.
Recognised as the animals’ George Cross, the highest honour for ‘civilian’ bravery, the PDSA Gold Medal is awarded to animals that are instrumental in saving human or animal life when its own life is in jeopardy, or through outstanding devotion to duty.