Every so often I come across a story which is both heartwarming and features unknown heroes. This month two dogs, Alfie the English Spaniel and AJ the Labrador, have both received the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) Order of Merit for “their career of exemplary service to society”. This is considered akin to an “animal OBE”. Alfie and AJ take the total number of PDSA Order of Merit recipients to 32 animals.
Alessandra Pacelli writes in “Dogs Today”: “English Spaniel Alfie and Labrador AJ both served in Number 4 RAF Police (Typhoon) Squadron for six years, regularly operating in dangerous environments, locating arms, ammunitions and explosives”.
During his career, Alfie completed over 600 hours of operational searching, resulting in “four, live high-profile finds of arms, ammunition, explosives, and bomb making equipment”. AJ conducted over 1,000 search hours, resulting in eight live high-profile operational finds of arms, ammunition, explosives and bomb-making equipment.”
PDSA Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said, “It is with great pride that we award Alfie and AJ the PDSA Order of Merit today. They have both had exemplary careers, playing a pivotal role in the vital work of the RAF Squadron and providing outstanding service to society.
“Through the PDSA Animal Awards programme we seek to raise the status of animals in society and honour the incredible contribution they make to our lives. Alfie and AJ’s extraordinary work warrants the highest recognition, making them worthy recipients of the PDSA Order of Merit.”
Provost Marshal (RAF), Group Captain David Wilkinson, said, “Alfie and AJ were truly outstanding members of the team, performing impeccably during their careers. They regularly worked in challenging and dangerous situations but never faltering in their duty. They are a credit to the Royal Air Force.
It’s a huge honour for Alfie and AJ to be awarded the PDSA Order of Merit. To have their actions recognised in this way is truly fantastic and I am immensely proud of everything they both achieved.”
Instituted in 2002, the PDSA Gold Medal, is the non-military counterpart to the PDSA Dickin Medal and is known as the animals’ George Cross and rewards civilian acts of animal bravery and exceptional devotion to duty.
Quite simply, the PDSA Gold Medal is the highest animal honour for life-saving devotion to duty in civilian life.
The Medal depicts a laurel wreath and the words: ‘For animal gallantry or devotion to duty’.
So, when we recognize our servicemen and veterans, spare a thought for our furry heroes who work alongside their humans, unassuming but loyal to the end.
Congratulations Alfie and AJ for a job well done!