Explosives sniffer dog to be given the 'Victoria Cross' for animals

An explosives sniffer dog who died after his army handler was killed in Afghanistan is to be given a posthumous award for its heroic actions.

Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26, from The Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, was shot by insurgents on 1 March last year.

He was on patrol in Helmand Province with his dog Theo, who died of a seizure shortly afterwards.

Spaniel Theo is to be awarded the 'animals' Victoria Cross' after making the most ever finds by any explosives search dog in Afghanistan
Spaniel Theo is to be awarded the 'animals' Victoria Cross' after making the most ever finds by any explosives search dog in Afghanistan Credit: Ministry of Defence/PA Wire

Springer spaniel Theo is to be awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal, known as the animals' Victoria Cross.

Theo made the most confirmed operational finds by any arms and explosives search dog in Afghanistan to date.

PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said: "Theo's exceptional devotion to duty as a military working dog in Afghanistan saved countless human lives."

The inseparable pair detected a record 14 Taliban roadside bombs and weapons caches in five months.

They are believed to have saved countless lives through search and clearance support, uncovering hidden weapons, improvised explosive devices and bomb-making equipment.

Police with dogs salute as the cortege for Lance Corporal Liam Tasker from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps passes through Wootton Bassett.
Police with dogs salute as the cortege for Lance Corporal Liam Tasker from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps passes through Wootton Bassett. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

L/Cpl Tasker, from Tayport in Fife, was posthumously honoured with an MBE in September last year.

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.

Speaking after an inquest in Trowbridge, Wiltshire last year, L/Cpl Tasker's mother, Jane Duffy, said the fact her son and Theo had "worked together and died together" brought her some comfort from knowing they were "somewhere together now".