Heroic dog earns medal after losing leg in Afghanistan
LONDON — A 12-year-old German Shepherd has been honoured with a medal after she was injured while serving in Afghanistan.
Lucca, who completed more than 400 missions with the US Marine Corps, was presented with a Dickin Medal at Wellington Barracks in London on Tuesday.
The medal represents “the highest award any animal in the world can achieve while serving in military conflict,” according to issuing body the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).
Lucca, who was specially trained to detect weapons with her awesome nose, was injured on patrol in March 2012.
As she hunted for explosives with her handler Cpl Juan Rodriguez, she was caught in an IED blast that left her fighting for her life. Cpl Rodriguez gave her first aid in the form of a tourniquet, and medics were called to the scene.
After Lucca had made a full recovery, she retired to California and moved in with her former handler, Gunnery Sergeant Chris Willingham.
“Lucca is very intelligent, loyal and had an amazing drive for work as a search dog,” Willingham was quoted as saying in an emailed press release.
“She is the only reason I made it home to my family and I am fortunate to have served with her.”
“Even when Lucca was injured, her good temperament and gentle nature never faltered,” Willingham continued.
“She has become an inspiration to everyone she meets and I am so very proud to see her decorated with this prestigious award.”