Hero dog to receive UK's highest military honour for animals
A hero dog who charged through enemy gunfire to save the lives of British soldiers has been awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.
Kuno, a Belgian Malinois, was working alongside special forces in Afghanistan when soldiers came under attack from al-Qaeda extremists during a night raid on an enemy stronghold in 2019.
The soldiers were pinned by grenade and machine-gun fire and unable to advance.
Kuno, who is trained to incapacitate enemy soldiers, was sent in to break the stalemate. Wearing night vision goggles, he charged through a flurry of bullets to wrestle the gunman to the ground, allowing the mission to be achieved successfully.
However, the heroic canine was shot in his hind legs and needed to be treated by his handler and medics in the back of a helicopter as they flew back to base.
He suffered a multitude of injuries and needed to be flown back to the UK on a Royal Air Force plane for treatment.
Vets had to amputate parts of both his back paw to prevent infection taking hold.
He then became the first UK military working dog to be fitted with custom-made prosthetic limbs to replace his missing paw and aid an injured leg.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Kuno changed the course of the mission.
He said: ‘Without Kuno, the course of this operation could have been very different, and it’s clear he saved the lives of British personnel that day.
‘Kuno’s story reminds us not only of the dedicated service of our soldiers and military dogs, but also the great care that the UK armed forces provide to the animals that serve alongside them.’
Kuno will receive the Dickin Medal, the highest honour for military animal valour, from vet charity the PDSA in November.
He will become the 72nd recipient of the medal, with previous honours going to 34 dogs, 32 World War Two messenger pigeons, four horses, and one cat.
PDSA’s director-general Jan McLoughlin said Kuno took on the enemy ‘without fear or hesitation’ and ‘never faltered from his duty despite being seriously injured’.
Kuno, now four, is enjoying well-earned rest and relaxation in retirement.