Kuno almost lost his life while serving with British special forces fighting Al Qaeda.
The four year old Belgian Malinois was working with a British assault force in Afghanistan, People reports. They were bearing down on an enemy compound when an insurgent wearing night goggles ambushed them with grenades and machine-gun fire.
Kuno took one insurgent down and located a cache of explosives before both sides had each other pinned down. That’s when rushed into the compound.
An insurgent hiding in the building heard Kuno enter. The next sound was the ‘braaaap’ of machine-gun fire. Kuno was hit in his hind legs and knocked down.
But he wasn’t knocked out.
Kuno made one last leap at the insurgent, clamped his teeth down on the man’s arm and brought him down so the rest of the assault team could proceed safely.
Kuno was badly injured in the battle, and could have died had a bullet grazed a nearby artery. Even with trained medics treating him in the helicopter ride back to base, Kuno underwent days of treatment before he was out of the weeds.
When Kuno returned home, he wasn’t the same. He sacrificed his rear paws to protect his team. But that sacrifice was recognized with the highest honor an animal can achieve in the UK.
“His actions that day undoubtedly changed the course of a vital mission, saving multiple lives in the process. And despite serious, life-changing injuries, he performed his duty without faltering,” wrote Jan McLoughlin from the PDSA veterinary charity, in a press release. “For this bravery and devotion to duty, we are honored to welcome him as the latest recipient of the PDSA Dickin.”
Still a fighter to this day, Kuno has not given up on life. In fact, he’s thriving as the first U.K. Military Working Dog to be outfitted with the unique prosthetic paws that help him walk.
“Kuno is a true hero,” McLoughlin said.
British military brass agrees.
“I’m delighted that Kuno will receive the PDSA Dickin Medal,” wrote British defense secretary Ben Wallace. “It is a testament to his training, tireless bravery, and devotion to duty which undoubtedly saved lives that day. I am very proud of the role our military working dogs play on operations at home and abroad. Kuno’s story reminds us of the lengths these animals go to keep us all safe.”
The Dickin Medal is a prestigious award, the equivalent of the Victoria Cross in the UK or a Medal of Honor in the US.
According to Historic UK, the first Dickin Medals were awarded to three pigeons in 1943. The British Royal Air Force relied on pigeons to help them recover aircrews from ditched aircraft.
Including Kuno, only 72 animals in history have been awarded the Dickin Medal, including 35 dogs, 32 WW2 messenger pigeons, four horses, and one cat.
Learn more in the video below.
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