UK Government

Ministry Of Defence: A pedigree chum receives highest animal honour

Press Release   •   Feb 25, 2010 10:03 GMT

A hero war dog that saved soldiers’ lives by sniffing out IEDs in Afghanistan will today be awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Treo, an eight-year-old black Labrador, will receive the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal from HRH Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy, KG, GCVO and PDSA patron, during a ceremony at the Imperial War Museum. The accolade is being given to Treo for finding deadly roadside bombs on two separate occasions while patrolling in Afghanistan with his handler, Sgt Dave Heyhoe.

Sgt Heyhoe and Treo were deployed as part of 104 Military Working Dogs Support Unit attached to a platoon from the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment near Sangin, Afghanistan, during 2008. While taking part in a patrol with soldiers from the regiment, Treo alerted Sgt Heyhoe to a booby-trapped collection of linked Improvised Explosive Device that the Taliban had hidden by a roadside by the Taliban.

Treo retired from duty as a military working dog in August 2009 and is now enjoying life as Sgt Heyhoe’s family pet.

Sgt Heyhoe said:

“Treo truly is a wonder dog. Without his work in Afghanistan, there is no doubt soldiers would have suffered serious injuries and could have died if the IEDs had exploded.

“He is a loyal, obedient and devoted dog. During his career as a military working dog, he has been very thorough in his searches. Together, we make a great search team and locating these deadly IEDs proved Treo’s worth in Afghanistan.”

His detection work prevented death and serious injuries to the patrolling soldiers. Treo proved he was man’s best friend again when he was attached to a second patrol from the same regiment.

While in lead position, Treo successfully located another IED while 7 Platoon the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment was patrolling near Sangin.

Major Graham Shannon, Officer Commanding, 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, said:

“Treo’s nose kept my soldiers safe from the roadside bombs planted by the Taliban to maximise injuries and deaths among troops. The military working dogs play a vital role in our patrols detecting these devices and the dogs themselves show enormous amounts of courage doing this work every day, and on many occasions, under attack.

“It is fitting that Treo has been recognised for the protection he afforded the troops through the presentation of this award.”

Honouring Treo, PDSA chairman Michael Bolton, said:

“PDSA is proud to honour Treo with the PDSA Dickin Medal, the animals’ Victoria Cross, for his gallantry in saving countless human lives. He continued with his duties irrespective of the dangers that faced him and in the process saved many, many lives.”

Notes to editors

  • For further information contact either Sonia Marshall at the MOD press office on 0207 218 3258.
  • Footage and pictures are available from www.defencenewsimagery.mod.uk or by calling 0207 218 6401. For organisations without an account, the log on details are:
  • Username: GuestUser
  • Password:  GoldenMedal
  • Print journalists should note that the Press Association attended a press facility at 104 Military Working Dogs Support Unit to show military working dogs in action. Copy and pictures from this event are available from PA.
  • 104 Military Working Dogs Support Unit are based in North Luffenham, Rutland. They are due to be deployed to Afghanistan again this September.
  • There are approximately 1,000 Military Working Dogs serving with the Army.
  • Isabel George and Andy Thomas, PDSA Press Officers, can be contacted on 07946 587124 or 07971 866316.
  • Contacts

    NDS Enquiries
    Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department
    ndsenquiries@coi.gsi.gov.uk