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PDSA honours army dog Sam with 'animal' VC


L-R Standing: PDSA Chairman, Roy Trustram Eve, Corporal Iain Carnegie and Marilyn Rydström, PDSA Director General. Kneeling: two members of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps

Sam, a Royal Army Veterinary Corps guard and patrol dog, was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal - 'the animal' Victoria Cross - at a special ceremony at the Army Medical Directorate at Sandhurst.

PDSA, Britain's leading veterinary charity, made the posthumous award in recognition of Sam's outstanding gallantry during the conflict in Bosnia Herzegovina in April 1998.

Sam's handler Sergeant Iain Carnegie accepted the Medal on behalf of the brave German Shepherd, who was nominated for the award by his Army colleagues. The PDSA Dickin Medal is the highest honour a service animal can receive in a time of conflict and was awarded to Sam in recognition of two documented acts of gallantry carried out while he and his handler were assigned to Ist Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment in Drvar.

On 18 April 1998 Sam and the then Corporal Carnegie were called to a bar in Drvar where an armed man had fled after firing his pistol in the street. After a chase, Sam brought the man down enabling Carnegie to retrieve the loaded firearm. Sam's actions were instrumental in the suspect's arrest.

Days later, on 24 April during a full-scale riot on the streets of Drvar, Sam and Corporal Carnegie were called to guard a compound where a large number of Serbs had taken refuge.

Sam's determined approach held off the rioters until re-enforcements from the Royal Canadian Regiment arrived. Undaunted by the hail of missiles and broken glass Sam remained steadfast to his duties and the commands of his handler. His courage in the face of danger undoubtedly saved the lives of many servicemen and civilians during that period of military conflict.

Receiving the award Sergeant Iain Carnegie said ‘Sam displayed outstanding courage and not once did he shy away from danger. I could never have carried out my duties without Sam at my side. He deserves the best.’

On presenting the PDSA Dickin Medal, Chairman Roy Trustram Eve DL said: ‘From the accounts we received detailing Sam's gallantry during his tour in Bosnia there is no doubt that this dog deserves the highest recognition, which is why PDSA is pleased and proud to be able to posthumously award the PDSA Dickin Medal, 'the animal 'Victoria Cross’.’

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the institution of the PDSA Dickin Medal. Maria Dickin - PDSA's founder - introduced the medal in 1943 to recognise animals displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whilst serving with the Armed Forces or Civil Defence units during WWII.

Since then a total of 58 PDSA Dickin Medals have been awarded: 32 to pigeons, 22 to dogs, three to horses and one to ‘Simon’ the ship's cat on HMS Amethyst during the Yangtze Incident of 1949.

Army dog ‘Sam’ is the 59th recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.