Buster the British bomb sniffer does his job in Iraq
The U.S. Army is mulling whether to present a medal to a military working dog for steadfastness in Afghanistan. A medal for a dog?
The British have no such reservations about recognizing animals for their work on the front lines.
The Dickin Medal is named for Maria Dickin, founder of a veterinary charity in the United Kingdom. Since it was created in 1943, the medal has been awarded 62 times, to dogs, pigeons, horses and at least one cat.
The large bronze medallion reads "For Gallantry" and "We Also Serve."
One of the recent recipients is Buster, a springer spaniel trained as an explosives sniffer and deployed to Iraq. Buster uncovered a cache of hidden weapons including AK-47s and grenades, as well as cash, cocaine and pro-Saddam Hussein literature. A group of Iraqi soldiers was busted as a result.
Buster has his own protective gear. When he's in England, he lives with his handler's family.
"I trained him by teaching him to fetch weapons like guns and ammunition instead of sticks and balls," said Sgt. Danny Morgan, part of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.
Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Royal Army