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Buster to receive PDSA Dickin Medal [04/09/2003]

Buster, a five-year-old springer spaniel and the pride of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, is to receive the PDSA Dickin Medal, “the animals’ Victoria Cross”, for bravery and devotion to duty during the latest conflict in Iraq.

In April 2003, the sniffer dog located a hidden cache of arms, drugs and explosives that could have caused the deaths of thousands of civilians and Service personnel in the village of Safwan in Southern Iraq.

"We are pleased and proud to honour Buster with the PDSA Dickin Medal – the animals’ Victoria Cross," said PDSA’s Director General Marilyn Rydström. "And to do this in the year that we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Medal is particularly poignant. Well done Buster!"

Buster, who was one of more than 20 war dogs drafted in to assist the allied forces in the Gulf, is currently working out his quarantine in Germany. He is due to return to Britain in late November and will be presented with his PDSA Dickin Medal at a special ceremony in London in early December. He will be joined by Sergeant Danny Morgan, his handler who is based at the military dogs training school at Aldershot, and a guest list that will include military personnel who witnessed Buster’s bravery.

"Quite simply, Buster succeeded where humans failed," said Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Dineley of the Army Medical Directorate in Surrey. "A manual search of the building had failed to unearth any material and Buster was released into the house to continue the search. Within minutes Buster became excited in a particular area of the room. As a result of that we found, concealed behind a purpose built wall cavity, a stash of guns, grenades, ammunition, bomb making equipment, explosive devices, drugs and propaganda material."

Buster will be the 60th animal to receive the PDSA Dickin Medal since the introduction of the award by PDSA’s founder Maria Dickin in 1943. So far it has been presented to 32 pigeons, 23 dogs, three horses and one cat.

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