Dog who found Taliban bombs given animal version of Victoria Cross

Bass the Belgian Shepherd is a very good boy (Picture: PDSA/BNPS)

A brave sniffer dog who saved multiple lives from Taliban bombs has been awarded the animal version of the Victoria Cross.

Bass, a Belgian Shepherd, served in the US Marine Corps.

He has now become the 75th animal to win the PDSA’s Dickin Medal – the highest accolade any animal can receive while serving in the military.

Bass spent six years in the US Marine Special Operation Command and conducted more than 350 explosive sweeps in 46 missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

He was helping to capture a Taliban bomb-maker in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in May 2019, when enemy soldiers opened fire and detonated a bomb.

Bass’s team had to find a safer vantage point and, in doing so, the brave dog quickly identified an explosive near the doorway of a building they had been going to use.

After finding another entry to the building, Bass continued to sweep it and find four additional bombs.

Now aged 10 – about 53 in human years – Bass has retired and lives with his former handler, Staff Sergeant Alex Schnell, in San Antonio, Texas.

Bass with his PDSA Dickin Medal with Staff Sergeant Alex Schnell.

Staff Sergeant Alex Schnell said Bass ‘is a wonderful example of how vital animals are’ (Picture: PDSA/BNPS)

He said: ‘It is truly one of my greatest honours to see Bass awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal.

‘Bass is an incredible dog and I hope his story helps to demonstrate just how important animals are to our armed forces, and the key, sometimes life-saving, roles that they play.

‘We are all incredibly proud that PDSA has recognised Bass in this way.’

The director general of the PDSA, Jan McLoughlin, said: ‘Bass displayed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in aiding the success of his team’s mission that evening in 2019; his actions undoubtedly prevented additional loss of life.

‘Bass’s life-saving actions on that night, make him a truly deserving recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.

‘Whether they are working dogs like Bass, or pets in our homes, animals have a truly unique role in our lives.

‘Bass is a wonderful example of how vital animals are. His exceptional abilities and determination were apparent to all who served with him, and he was a clearly respected member of the team. I am proud to present him with the PDSA Dickin Medal.’

The PDSA Dickin Medal was launched by the UK charity in 1943 after its founder, Maria Dickin, realised the amount of lives animals had saved in the Second World War.

The award is a large, bronze medallion bearing the words ‘For Gallantry’ and ‘We Also Serve’ all within a laurel wreath.

The Medal has been awarded 75 times to 38 dogs, 32 pigeons, four horses and one cat.

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