A French Navy Commando dog has received the highest honour available for animals – the PDSA Dickin Medal – for his life saving actions while on duty.
The vet charity posthumously awarded Belgian Malinois Leuk with the prestigious award, also known as the animals’ Victoria Cross, for his unstinting bravery and life-saving devotion to duty.
A private ceremony took place in Brittany, where a monument commemorating all digs who have died serving the French Navy was also unveiled.
Leuk served with the famed French Navy Special Forces ‘Commando Kieffer’ unit where his extraordinary abilities had gained him the nickname of ‘Leuk la Chance’ (Lucky Leuk) during his last rotation. He is the first French Military Working Dog to receive the PDSA Dickin Medal in its 78-year history.
PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin, who presented the medal virtually said: “Leuk’s actions undoubtedly saved the lives of his unit on multiple occasions. He pushed through flames and bullets to succeed, fearlessly exposing and taking down enemy insurgents; he truly is a worthy recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.”
On a two-day mission in April 2019, in thick vegetation and with all other options exhausted, Leuk was deployed to flush out two nearby insurgents with automatic weapons. By this time the area around the enemy encampment was on fire, but Leuk ran through flames and bullets, attacking relentlessly for seven minutes, allowing his team to safely close in and neutralise the threat.
As the mission continued, Leuk was sent to another location where four enemies were positioned. He created a diversion by attacking one of them, enabling his team to succeed again. Towards the end of the operation Leuk was tracking IEDs, but he suddenly stopped and intercepted an armed insurgent, who had not been detected. Due to Leuk’s actions his team were quickly able to capture the enemy before anyone was harmed, and the operation was completed with no loss of life in the team.
Leuk’s final mission took place in May 2019 – he was killed by an enemy whose position he had single-handedly exposed.
PDSA Director Jan McLoughlin added: “Leuk’s exceptional abilities and determination were apparent to all who served with him, and he was clearly a respected and vital part of the team. His bravery and devotion make him a thoroughly deserving recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal.”
Reacting to the award, Commander Nicolas, the CO of Commando Kieffer, said: “It is a great pride for all of us to see Leuk honoured in this way with the prestigious PDSA Dickin Medal. His story helps to demonstrate just how important animals are to our armed forces, and the key roles that they play. To see Leuk’s name now listed alongside such distinguished company is a fitting testament to this exceptional dog. More than that, his death also led us to erect a monument dedicated to the French navy commando dogs who were killed in action since Word War 2.”