A French police dog will be honored with the animal equivalent of the highest medal for valor “in the face of the enemy,” according to an animal welfare group.
Diesel, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, was shot multiple times during a raid following the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris in November. Five police officers were also injured in the raid, which targeted terror suspect Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
The dog was sent into the apartment to make sure it was safe, according to the Britain-based People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), which will present the posthumous Dickin Medal.
“Diesel is a truly deserving recipient. His gallant actions helped to protect human life in the face of imminent danger,” PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin said in a statement.
Diesel’s handler said he heard “sporadic” gunfire coming from an apartment. When the shooting appeared to stop, the dog was sent in.
“He did a tour of the first room, then he went into the second room and dashed forward. I think he’d found someone. Then I lost sight of him and the gunfire started again,” said the handler. “His role was to open the way for the rest of us. He uses all his senses to detect if anyone is present and if he can get to them, to go and bite them. If not, he stands and barks to indicate where the person is hiding.”
According to Major RULP Jean-Marc Lenglet from the French National Police, the handler was “deeply affected” by Diesel’s death.
“The PDSA Dickin Medal recognizes conspicuous devotion to duty in the theater of conflict and Diesel is a truly deserving recipient, said McLoughlin. “His gallant actions helped to protect human life in the face of imminent danger and we are very proud to honor him in this way.”
Diesel will be the 66th animal to receive the award.