Page 18 - Chiron Spring 2018
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Top Dog: Mali Awarded Centenary PDSA Dickin Medal on the Charity’s Very Special Birthday By PDSA’s Director General, Jan McLoughlin
 On 17 November 2017, PDSA celebrated its 100th birthday by awarding a commemorative edition of the PDSA Dickin Medal to Military Working Dog, Mali, for his bravery and devotion to duty on a mission in Afghanistan in 2012.
We wanted to mark our centenary in a way that reflected the values and aims of our founder, Maria Dickin, when she started the charity; to raise the status of animals in society. So, in the glorious November sunshine, we gathered outside The People’s Palace at Queen Mary University in London, which is just a few steps away from the site of PDSA’s first ever permanent dispensary, to recognise Mali’s gallant actions and mark our milestone birthday.
Recognising Mali
Mali is the 69th recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal, which is often referred to as the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. It recognises conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the theatre of war and was instituted in 1943 to recognise the key contribution and sacrifices being made by animals during conflict.
Eight-year-old Mali was attached to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) and was trained to sniff out explosives and detect insurgents. His expertise during one particular operation was vital in helping the UK forces and its allies secure a key enemy stronghold amid sustained fire.
Mali’s official medal citation reads:
MWD Mali was part of a British Military unit deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. During his tenure, Mali was deployed to assist in an operation to secure an enemy stronghold, situated in a multi-storey building. The significance of his actions during this seven-and-a-half-hour mission saw him perform above and beyond the call of duty on numerous occasions.
Mali was sent through direct fire on two separate occasions to conduct searches for explosives. He also indicated the presence of insurgents numerous times, giving the assault force vital milliseconds to engage the enemy in close quarter combat.
During the operation, Mali was hoisted up the outside of the building several times to provide the assault force with a key foothold to attack the insurgents.
In the melée that took place, the assault force sustained casualties. Mali was also seriously injured by three grenade blasts; the first two explosions caused injuries to his chest, front and rear legs. A further blast detonated close to his face, causing the loss of Mali’s front tooth and damage to his right ear.
Despite his injuries, Mali continued his duties and pushed forward, remaining close to his handler. He played a key role in breaking the stalemate that had begun to develop in the building, providing impetus for the host nation and UK forces to continue to fight and bring about a successful resolution.
Mali displayed outstanding courage in the face of fire and there is no doubt that his actions throughout the operation were pivotal in the success of breaking an enemy stronghold, helping to save multiple lives and prevent further injury.
Stealing Hearts
Photos and footage of Mali and Corporal Dan Hatley was seen across the world and Mali’s story dominated the news agenda on the day of his award, which helps to raise awareness of the vital work of Military Working Dogs and the vital role
Cpl Hartley and Mali
they continue to play in modern warfare. Following the formal presentation of the medal, which was made by PDSA’s royal patron, HRH Princess Alexandra, Colonel Neil Smith made the formal response on
behalf of the RAVC.
I am always humbled by the incredible
animals that the PDSA Dickin Medal serves to celebrate. Mali’s story of grit, heroism in the face of mortal peril and the fierce loyalty and companionship he displayed to his handler on that mission embodies just why we continue to honour our Founder’s legacy by presenting the award today.
The PDSA Dickin Medal bears the words ‘They Also Serve’ and those words are as true today for Military animals as they were in 1943. For their gallantry and devotion to duty, we will continue to honour them, now and for the next 100 years.
MWD Mali
  CVO, Mali, Cpl Hartley, Jan McLoughlin
A Charity’s Humble Beginnings
PDSA has come a long way from its humble beginnings on the streets of East London in 1917. Over the last 100 years, we have worked tirelessly to realise Maria’s vision, by helping the pets of people in need.
The first ever temporary dispensary was set up in a Whitechapel basement. A simple sign read: “Bring your sick animals. Do not let them suffer. All animals treated. All treatment free.” As word spread, demand for this radical new service grew, and our very first permanent dispensary was opened on Harford Street.
Our incredible journey began there and over the last century we’ve delivered more than 100 million treatments. Today our 48 Pet Hospitals, located right across the UK, treat nearly half a million pets every year.
Reaching such a milestone anniversary gave us time to reflect on the struggles and the triumphs that have shaped PDSA into the UK’s leading veterinary charity – and one of the world’s foremost proponents of animal welfare. We remembered the pets that we’ve saved, the owners whose lives we’ve helped, and the animals we’ve honoured through our globally recognised Animal Awards Programme – created to raise the status of animals in society.

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