Britain honours America's canine heroes with the PDSA Dickin Medal for gallantryBritain honours America's canine heroes with the PDSA Dickin Medal for gallantry
"Appollo", a NYPD Search and Rescue dog represented over 300 of his canine colleagues when he stood beside guide dogs "Salty" and "Roselle" to accept the PDSA Dickin Medal in recognition of their devotion to duty on and after the tragic events of September 11.
The PDSA Dickin Medal is the highest honour Britain can bestow on any animal in a time of conflict or in the face of danger, in American terms it is the animal equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Medals presented at a special ceremony at the Rescue Workers Memorial at Ground Zero, New York on 5 March were the first PDSA Dickin Medals to be awarded outside the activities of World War II and its aftermath.
NYPD canine unit search and rescue dog "Appollo" and his handler, police officer Peter Davis, accepted the PDSA Dickin Medal on behalf of all Search and Rescue dogs who worked 'the pile' at Ground Zero and through the debris at the Pentagon. Dog and handler representatives from the Port Authority K-9 unit, Task Force 1, Suffolk County canine unit, Connecticut State Police K-9 team, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) were present to receive copies of the PDSA Dickin Medal citation and certificate to take back to their units. Volunteer Search and Rescue teams were represented by Hal Wilson and his German Shepherd "Tsunami" who worked at Ground Zero in those first critical hours after the World Trade Center towers collapsed.
Guide dog "Salty", owned by Port Authority employee, Omar Rivera, and guide dog "Roselle" owned by Michael Hingson, a Guide Dogs for the Blind (California) representative received their PDSA Dickin Medals in recognition of their devotion to duty as they led their owners down more than 70 floors of the World Trade Center and to safety.
On presenting the Medals PDSA Chairman Roy Trustram Eve DL, said: "The People of Britain were appalled by the events of 11 September 2001 and still share in your grief. As a charity devoted to the care of animals, PDSA could not ignore the courageous work undertaken at that time by the many man and dog partnerships.
"The guide dogs remained devoted to their duty to ensure the safety of their owners. The Search and Rescue dogs worked to the point of exhaustion to find life in the ruins of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We are pleased and proud to award these dogs the PDSA Dickin Medal for their service to humanity."
The PDSA Dickin Medal was instituted by PDSA’s founder Maria Dickin to recognise animals displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whilst serving with the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units during World War II and its aftermath. Between 1943 to 1949 the Dickin Medal was awarded to 54 animals: 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, three horses and to one cat, “Simon” who served on HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident.
The Canadian war dog “Gander” became the 55th recipient when he received his award posthumously in October 2000. “Gander”, the canine mascot of the Royal Rifles of Canada lost his life intercepting a grenade and therefore saved the lives of a group of wounded Canadian soldiers during the Battle of Lye Mun on Hong Kong Island in December 1941.
The three PDSA Dickin Medals being awarded at Ground Zero on 5 March 2002 are in recognition of the dogs’ devotion to duty and service to humanity. The one Medal being awarded to the canine Search and Rescue dogs is in recognition of the contribution made by the hundreds of dogs who worked at Ground Zero and the Pentagon.