Military dog wins British prize for valor under fire

LONDON (AP) — A British military dog that saved the lives of troops in Afghanistan in 2012 was decorated Friday for bravery.

Mali, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, won the Dickin medal — a prize awarded by the PDSA veterinary charity and billed as the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, Britain’s top award for military valor.

The charity says Mali was twice sent through direct fire to conduct searches for explosives. He also detected the presence of insurgents, giving troops key seconds to “engage the enemy in close-quarter combat.”

He carried on despite being hurt by grenade blasts that injured his chest, legs and ear. He has since fully recovered.

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Corporal Daniel Hatley, who trained Mali, said he was extremely proud.

“The way he conducted himself when it mattered most enabled my colleagues to achieve success in close combat,” Hatley said.

Mali is the 69th recipient of the prize that since 1943 has recognized gallantry by animals serving with the military, police or rescue services.

The award, named veterinary charity’s founder Maria Dickin, has also gone to police horses, carrier pigeons and once to a cat that caught rats on a besieged vessel in China.