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Aussie War Dog Wins Purple Cross

Sarbi protected soldiers from bombs

Sarbi, Australia’s most renowned living dog, has been presented with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Purple Cross for his service to the military in Afghanistan.

Top military brass gathered at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, along with 100 primary school children, to honor the dog who has served his country protecting soldiers from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other bombs.

“I am thrilled that the RSPCA has chosen to honor Sarbi, and by extension, all of Army’s working dogs and their handlers with this award,” said Chief of Army Lt. General Ken Gillespie at the ceremony.

There was added poignancy to the occasion and to Sarbi’s service in that he had gone missing for more than a year.

During a firefight in September 2008, in which nine Australian soldiers, including Sarbi’s handler, were wounded, Sarbi was hit, too, and was seen by one person limping away in the distance. Thirteen months later, he was found hanging out with an Afghan family by American soldiers.

Lynne Bradshaw, president of the RSPCA, said it would be better for dogs not to be going to war at all, but that the Purple Cross recognizes the deeds of animals who have shown outstanding service to humans.

“There’s no doubt that Sarbi has shown an incredible resilience and strength that should be recognised,” she said.
Absent from the ceremony yesterday was Sarbi’s handler, who, for security reasons, is known only as Sgt. D. Sarbi will not be deployed again to Afghanistan. She’ll be going into retirement and living at home with Sgt. D. and his family.

Here are some photos and video of Sarbi:

Soon after being found after being lost for 13 months in Afghanistan, Sarbi gets a hero’s greeting from Aussie Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and U.S. commander General Stanley McChrystal.

On patrol in Afghanistan, Sarbi was rarely separated from his favorite ball.

Sarbi with Sgt. D., who cannot be identified for security reasons.

Sarbi at the award ceremony, with Cpl.Adam Exelby, who stood in for Sgt. D.

RSPCA President Lynne Bradshaw speaks at the award ceremony

What do you say? What do you think of dogs being used in war zones? Do you know a dog who’s been to war? Let us know by commenting below or on Facebook.

What you can do: The Military Working Dog Foundation helps find good new homes for military working dogs when they are retired. And Military Working Dogs provides protective gear to dogs in war zones and other extreme situations. They both appreciate your support.