A German Shorthaired Pointer dog named Hertz just received the highest recognition that any animal can receive in military combat. In a ceremony in London on February 22, 2022, Hertz was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, which is recognized worldwide as “the animal’s Victoria Cross.”
Hertz’s bravery and particular set of skills saved lives. This hero dog shows just how valuable a dog’s incredible nose is, and that working dogs make great companions too.
The Incredible Work That Earned Hertz His Medal
For his “bravery and devotion to duty,” Hertz became the 74th animal to receive the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal. Previous recipients of the award include 37 dogs, 32 pigeons, four horses, and one cat.
Hertz was the first ever dog in the British military trained to detect “personal electronic devices” like cell phones, SIM cards and GPS devices. His trainer and handler in Afghanistan, warrant officer Jonathan Tanner, explained that they targeted mobile devices being used to “pass messages and data and details to people on the outside that might pose a threat to those on the inside of camp.”
“Using his unique set of skills that had never been seen before in military theatre, Hertz successfully completed his mission, defending troops from threats that had previously claimed the lives of UK and US servicemen and women.” – PDSA via Facebook
PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin honored the hero dog, saying:
“Hertz is a truly remarkable animal hero and a trailblazer in his field. His exceptional skills undoubtedly protected troops from the ever-evolving advances in digital intelligence. His actions changed the course of countless missions, saving the lives of military personnel and civilians.”
Hertz was born in Croatia and joined the RAF at just one-year-old. After the puppy demonstrated exceptional skill in drug detecting, he was chosen for the special assignment of mobile device detection.
“It was a capability that in the British military had never been tried before,” warrant officer Tanner explained. “It was something that we’d never even considered before.”
Hertz trained for around two months to sniff out mobile devices. He later went on to find over 100 items, and was personally responsible for over 50 individual finds.
Over a period of 13 months, Tanner and Hertz worked in Camp Bastion and various places throughout Helmand and Kabul. The pair became extremely close, “best friends,” as Tanner put it.
Tanner said Hertz is “by far the best” dog he’s worked with, adding: “He’s very much a unique animal.” Congratulations, go to Hertz for this well-deserved honor!