A French police dog named Diesel, who died during an apartment raid targeting Abdelhamid Abaaoud, alleged mastermind of the November 13 Paris attacks, will receive a posthumous medal of honor for her bravery.
The honor comes from the U.K.’s leading veterinary charity, People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, (PDSA), which will award Diesel the Dickin Medal, recognized as the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, in the New Year.
“Diesel is a truly deserving recipient. His gallant actions helped to protect human life in the face of imminent danger,” PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin said in a statement.
Note: Diesel was actually a female dog, “chienne,” meaning “female dog,” and not “chien,” a male dog. In spite of that, this hashtag went viral.
Photo Credit: Youtube video
Diesel, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, served with the French National Research, Assistance, Intervention and Deterrence special anti-terrorism force (RAID).
On November 18, five days after the Paris attacks that killed 130 people, the French national police forces took part in a security operation in the Paris suburb of St-Denis. That morning armed officers began searching an apartment where the suspected leader of the Paris attacks, along with six other terrorists, was staying.
Sporadic gunfire was coming from the apartment, and when it stopped, the decision was made after a few minutes to send in Diesel to see if the zone was clear.
Here’s the official PDSA announcement, from Diesel’s handler:
“He (sic) did a tour of the first room, then he went into the second room and dashed forward. I think he’d found someone. Then I lost sight of him and the gunfire started again.
“His role was to open the way for the rest of us. He uses all his senses to detect if anyone is present and if he can get to them, to go and bite them. If not, he stands and barks to indicate where the person is hiding.
“I had absolute confidence in him, and him in me. Both of us knew how the other would behave in the situation.”
Diesel was pronounced dead from multiple gunshot wounds at 10am.
“Diesel, malinois de 7 ans, chienne d’assaut du #RAID a été tuée par les terroristes dans l’opération en cours #SaintDenis,” the French national Police (Police Nationale) tweeted. Translation: Diesel, a 7-year-old Malinois, female assault dog with RAID, has been killed by terrorists in the security operation at St. Denis.
Another tweet read:
“Les chiens d’assaut et de recherche d’explosifs: indispensables dans les missions des opérateurs du #RAID.” (Loosely translated, “Assault and explosives dogs: indispensable in #RAID missions.”)
Five police officers were injured during the siege.
“When news emerged of Diesel’s death there was a huge outpouring of grief,” said McLoughlin. “We were inundated by messages from members of the public to recognise his heroism.”
PDSA said the award is the highest animal honor in the world. “The PDSA Dickin Medal recognises conspicuous devotion to duty in the theatre of conflict and Diesel is a truly deserving recipient, said McLoughlin. “His gallant actions helped to protect human life in the face of imminent danger and we are very proud to honour him in this way.”
The medal was introduced by PDSA founder Maria Dickin in 1943; since then it has been awarded to 30 dogs (including Diesel), 32 World War Two messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat.
RIP, Diesel. #Je Suis Chien