Hero Dog with Prosthetic Paws that Survived Gunfire to Save Others Given Highest Animal Honor

Four-year-old Belgian Malinois, Kuno, served with British special forces in Afghanistan

Belgian Malinois, Kuno, has proven beyond all doubt that dogs truly are humanity’s best friends.

The retired British Army dog suffered life-changing injuries while supporting British Special Forces fighting Al Qaeda and has now been awarded the Dickin Medal – the very best award any animal can receive in British military – from the People’s Dispensary for Sickly Animals (PDSA). To put it into human perspective: that’s the animal equivalent of winning the Victoria Cross, the UK's version of the Medal of Honor.

"Kuno may be a true hero," Jan McLoughlin from the PDSA veterinary charity said during a release about the award, which was given to Kuno for his incredible bravery during a 2019 operation in Afghanistan.

For the operation, the four-year-old military pooch was deployed to support British troops attacking a well-armed Al-Qaeda compound. Unfortunately, the assault force became pinned down by an important barrage of grenades and machine-gun fire launched by an insurgent equipped with night-sight goggles, who had concealed himself in the compound. With British and Afghan troops unable to maneuver without sustaining casualties, it fell to Kuno to interrupt the deadlock. After being released by his handler, Kuno – who had already incapacitated one insurgent and discovered a stash of hidden explosives during the raid – sprinted through the compound's doorway to attack the insurgent.

Startled by Kuno's sudden arrival, the gunman fired wildly into the darkness, injuring the dog in both hind legs. Kuno continued to press forward and threw himself at the gunman, biting his arm and wrestling him to the bottom. Despite his serious leg wounds, the dog continued to attack the Al-Qaeda fighter until the assault force entered the courtyard and cleared the building. Only then did he finally take a rest. "His actions that day undoubtedly changed the course of an important mission, saving multiple lives within the process. And despite serious, life-changing injuries, he performed his duty without faltering," McLoughlin added in the release. "For this bravery and devotion to duty, we are honored to welcome him because the latest recipient of the PDSA Dickin."

Kuno returned to the UK with his agent | Credit: PDSA Unfortunately, the Al Qaeda fighter's bullets seriously damaged Kuno's back legs, with one only narrowly missing a main artery. Despite receiving life-saving field treatment by medics in the back of a helicopter, Kuno still required several operations before he was stable enough to return to the U.K. This included amputating a part of one between his rear paws to stop life-threatening infections. Happily, however, the hero dog has since made a full recovery from his surgery and has become the primary U.K. Military dog to be fitted with custom-made prosthetic limbs.

The PDSA describes him as being "in good spirits and health."

"I’m delighted that Kuno will receive the PDSA Dickin Medal," British defense secretary Ben Wallace said in the release. "It may be a testament to his training, tireless bravery, and devotion to duty which undoubtedly saved lives that day." "I am very pleased with the role our military working dogs play on operations reception and abroad. Kuno’s story reminds us of the lengths these animals attend keep us all safe." Kuno is that the 72nd recipient of the Dickin Medal since it had been created in December 1943, at the peak of war II.

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