Following the horrific terrorist attacks on Paris that killed 130 people on Nov. 13, many stories of heroism emerged from the chaos. One was that of Diesel, a 7-year-old police dog killed when police raided an apartment building in a Paris suburb, closing in on the organizers of the massacre. The Belgian Malinois, who was scheduled to retire in just a few months, died of multiple gunshot wounds after being sent in to see if the area was clear.
The global outpouring of sympathy for Diesel was swift. First the hashtag #JeSuisChien (“I am Dog”) was trending on social media, then Russia gifted France with a new puppy in recognition of the brave canine.
Now Great Britain is honoring Diesel with the Dickin Medal for Gallantry, the animal equivalent of the UK’s Victoria Cross, its highest military honor. Diesel will be recognized posthumously in a ceremony in early 2016. General Jan McLoughlin, director of the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (which awards the medal) said in a statement: “When news emerged of Diesel's death there was a huge outpouring of grief. We were inundated by messages from members of the public to recognize his heroism.”
The Dickin Medal has been awarded 66 times, since its introduction in 1943, to: 30 dogs, 32 messenger pigeons, three horses, and one cat.