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Gallant Northern Ireland dogs awarded PDSA Gold Medal

Canine life-savers Dylan and Cracker have each been awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for their gallantry and devotion to duty.

The two brave brothers, now veteran members of the Search and Rescue Dog Association in Northern Ireland, were presented with their Medals by PDSA Chairman Mr. Freddie Bircher, at a special ceremony at Belfast Castle on Tuesday, 27 June 2006.

The PDSA Gold Medal, recognised as the ‘animals’ George Cross’, is the highest honour any civilian animal can receive for bravery and devotion to duty. Both dogs, owned and handled by Neil Powell of Newcastle, County Down, were responsible for individual acts of gallantry.

In March 1999 Dylan searched for and located four students who went missing in exceptionally poor weather conditions on the mountains of Mourne. Dylan found the group stranded on a ledge 250 feet above ground level. Dylan’s life-saving abilities also came to the fore in the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey in November 1999. Working in dangerous and exhausting circumstances, Dylan located two people trapped alive in the rubble.

Cracker was also part of the canine search team following the 1999 Turkish earthquake, and in locating the deceased gave many families the opportunity to pay their last respects to loved ones. Cracker is the only dog in the UK trained to locate bodies in water. His skills have helped locate four people lost in water.

‘Dylan and Cracker are exceptional dogs’ said Freddie Bircher, PDSA Chairman. ‘They have proven their abilities as skilled and dedicated search and rescue dogs and they deserve the highest recognition for their remarkable gallantry and devotion to duty. We are pleased and proud to honour these dogs with the PDSA Gold Medal.’