Posthumous award for sniffer dog
An Army explosives sniffer dog who died hours after his handler was killed in Afghanistan has been given a posthumous award.
Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26, was shot by insurgents on March 1 last year while on patrol in Helmand Province with his dog Theo, who died of a seizure shortly afterwards.
The pair, who were said to have been inseparable, detected a record 14 Taliban roadside bombs and weapons caches in five months, and are believed to have saved countless lives.
Their role was to provide search and clearance support, uncovering hidden weapons, improvised explosive devices and bomb-making equipment.
Springer spaniel Theo was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, known as the animals' Victoria Cross, at Wellington Barracks, London.
The award is said to be the highest accolade any animal can receive in recognition of devotion to duty in saving human life while serving in military conflict. It was established by the veterinary charity's founder, Maria Dickin, in 1943.
L/Cpl Tasker, from Tayport in Fife, served in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment.
His mother, Jane Duffy, described Theo as her son's "best mate" and said they were together "24/7" in Afghanistan.
She went on: "Liam got his mention in dispatches, so it's lovely that Theo is getting his PDSA Dickin Medal and he's being recognised for his bravery as well. They'll be watching us and they'll be so proud. I just wish they were here to get it themselves. Theo and Liam saved so many lives out there."
Theo made the most confirmed operational finds by any arms and explosives search dog in Afghanistan to date. On one occasion, he is said to have discovered an underground tunnel leading to a room in which insurgents were suspected of making bombs and hiding from coalition forces.
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