Should animals be celebrated for gallantry?

17 Oct 2020

Jones, B. V.

Vet Record Image

The news article ‘Dickin Medal for military dog wounded in action’ (VR, 5/12 September 2020, vol 187, p 170) describes the conflict injuries received by the dog Kuno and the excellent care and rehabilitation provided by the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC). The medal, awarded by the PDSA sponsor, carries the inscription ‘For Gallantry’, a word defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as meaning ‘bravery, nobility, dashing courage’. These are words which, when describing a human deed in war might be suitable but, I would suggest, are not appropriate for a dog that has been trained, against its natural instincts, to place itself in a potentially fatal situation.

Kuno should be remembered not with praise but with sympathy

A more suitable expression for all such animals, and one that we should all remember, would be ‘they had no choice’. This is the last line of the inscription on...