‘Animal Victoria Cross Award’ for military dog Kuno

Military Dog Kuno to receive the Dickin medal, UK's highest honour for animals

A military dog who charged through enemy gunfire to save the lives of British soldiers fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is to be awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

The Belgian Malinois named Kuno and his handler had been deployed to support elite Special Boat Service (SBS) forces during a night raid targeting al-Qaeda extremists in Afghanistan last year when they came under attack.

Pinned down by grenade and machine-gun fire from an insurgent, special forces were unable to move during the compound raid.

But four-year-old Kuno leapt into action, tackling the gunman without hesitation to break the deadlock – and change the course of the mission.

During the raid, the brave Belgian Shepherd Malinois was shot in both back legs during his act of heroism and suffered life-changing injuries. After losing one of his paws as a result, he became the first UK military dog to get custom-made prosthetics.

The four-year-old will receive the Dickin Medal from vet charity the PDSA. Now retired and rehomed, Kuno – who was trained to detect explosives, weapons and incapacitate enemies – will be awarded the medal for valour. Kuno has been awarded for his devotion to duty – equal to the Victoria Cross, the highest award in the British honours system.

He was formally given the gong via a virtual ceremony. Kuno’s act of valour came while working as a canine protection and detection dog in 2019.

His role was to support British forces in mountainous, unforgiving and dangerous areas – such as finding weapons and explosives and taking down the enemy, if needed.

Kuno will become the 72nd recipient of the medal, with previous recipients including 34 dogs, 32 World War II messenger pigeons, four horses and one cat.