‘Really special’ amputee dog honoured for braving Al Qaeda gunfire

A retired military working dog called Kuno has been awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross after running through gunfire to tackle an Al Qaeda insurgent.

Kuno, a Belgian Shepherd Malinois, received bullets to his back legs during the compound raid in 2019, leaving him in need of several operations and eventually the amputation of part of one paw.

However, the then-four-year-old dog proved to be the difference in the siege, with his intervention credited with turning the tide when the assault force was pinned down under grenade and machine-gun fire.

Despite the pain he later endured, a pair of prosthetic limbs mean Kuno is now able to enjoy retirement.

“I’ve had the privilege of meeting him on several occasions and every time I see him, you look into his eyes and you can see his intelligence, his determination to please,” chief defence veterinary and rehoming officer Colonel Mark Morrison told the PA news agency.

“He’s interested in everything and he’s just an amazing character. He is both sociable and businesslike… and you don’t get that all the time. A really special dog.”

A military working dog handler with Kuno, a four-year-old Belgian Shepherd Malinois and military working dog, at Woolwich Barracks in London, with his PDSA Dickin Medal for valour, the highest award any animal can receive whilst serving in military conflict. Kuno received the award after he was wounded in action while heroically saving the lives of British Forces fighting Al Qaeda

The PDSA Dickin Medal is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, and was awarded to Kuno on Tuesday during a virtual presentation.

He joins a select group of 72 animals who have received the honour, including dogs, horses, pigeons and a cat.

“They’re really important, in some niche roles they are absolutely central,” Colonel Morrison said.

“They provide the ability to detect explosives or other threat substances. In other instances what we value is their ability to protect. Their physical presence is enough in some respects.

“Of course, they’re great companions and their loyalty makes all the difference.”