The 5-year old Labrador Retriever broke his back while on active service. He one of three runners-up for the esteemed Blue Cross Medal.The military animal bravery medal has been reinstated for one year only to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the WWI.
The yellow Lab was trained at the Defence Animal Centre (DAC) in Melton and he will receive a certificate recognizing his performance at work.
“Animals have made such a positive difference to the lives of people throughout history, and continue to do so to this day,” Steve Goody, Blue Cross deputy chief executive, said.“All the judges on the medal panel were really touched by JJ’s remarkable story and the incredible difference he has made to the lives of soldiers, and we really wanted to recognize the work he has done.”
The Lab was on his third tour in September 2013 when he fell down a 60ft well while searching a compound. That fall caused him serious internal injuries and a fractured vertebra in his spine.
He was immediately transferred to the UK Veterinary Treatment Facility in Camp Bastion and underwent emergency surgery to stabilize his injuries.
He was flown back to the DAC and after just seven months, the brave pooch was once again fit for service.
“We invest a great deal of time and training in our animals to enable them to do their job. All our animals receive a high level of care and when injured we will do everything we can to give them the best chance of recovery, as JJ clearly demonstrates,” Major Steve Leavis said.
JJ also joined the ranks of Melton’s canine heroes who have died in the line of duty.
Theo, a Springer Spaniel, was nominated posthumously to receive the Dickin Medal – the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross after his handler LiamTasker was killed.
Four-year-old Labrador Sasha was also posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal after she was killed together with her handler, Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe, in July 2008.
“The care and treatment given to JJ by our Army Vets was exemplary and as a result he overcame his injuries to return to the work that he enjoyed,” Major Steve Leavis added.
Although JJ is fit to go back to work, the decision was taken to discharge him from duty in July 2014 to allow him to enjoy a well-deserved retirement with Corporal Phil Corlett, one of his former handlers.
“Although he could have continued to work, it was felt that he had served his country and it was time for him to enjoy life to the full in retirement,” Major Steve Leavis said.
Source: Leicester Mercury