Dog awarded animals’ Victoria Cross for RAF service in Afghanistan

A retired military working dog named Hertz has been awarded a medal known as the animals’ Victoria Cross for his service in Afghanistan.

The German shorthaired pointer is the first dog in British military history to detect electronic communications equipment such as mobile phones, voice recorders, sim cards and GPS devices.

Hertz, who serviced with the Royal Air Force police, has been awarded the PDSA Dickin medal, the 74th recipient of the honour since it was first awarded in 1943.

Throughout his time in Afghanistan, Hertz was responsible for finding more than 100 items of contraband, including drugs and personal electronic devices (PEDs), described as a significant threat to the lives of service personnel and civilians.

Born in Croatia, Hertz joined the RAF as a one-year-old after showing skills in drug detection. He was then selected as the first-ever military working dog to be trained to detect the presence of electronic devices (PEDs).

After weeks of intense specialist training, assisted by the Prison Service, which uses sniffer dogs to detect electronics contraband, Hertz and his handler, WO Jonathan Tanner, were deployed to Afghanistan.

Tanner and Hertz worked together daily in military and civilian compounds in the then British military base Camp Bastion. On his first search, Hertz discovered drugs and electronic devices, with the latter successful in supporting intelligence purposes.

Hertz was deployed throughout Helmand province and to the Afghan capital of Kabul. During the 13 months of his tour, there was not a single rocket attack on Camp Bastion.

The PDSA said: “His work was vital to ensure the safety of all the personnel working there, both locals and military. It is difficult to truly estimate how many lives he saved through his actions.”

The first recipient of the Dickin medal was a pigeon, White Vision. She delivered a message that led to the rescue of a ditched aircrew in October 1943, flying nine hours in bad visibility and heavy weather with strong headwinds.

Other recipients include Simon the cat in 1949 for “gallantry under fire” and for the disposal of many rats on board HMS Amethyst, and Olga the horse, who received the medal in 1947 for controlling traffic and assisting rescue operations after a flying bomb explosion in Tooting, south London.

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