Mali is not like other dogs. Instead of spending his days enjoying a leisurely life in a master’s home, Mali works for the British army. Trading in his bones and chew toys for military duties, Mali has been assigned on many dangerous missions, in most cases returning home unscathed.
That all changed after one mission in 2012, where Mali was helping his soldiers in Afghanistan capture a Kabul tower block.
The mission was simple: stop a Taliban force from holding the tower. While searching the buildings for explosives and enemy fighters, Mali sustained serious injuries from grenade blasts.
Twice the brave dog had to run through enemy fire, as well as having to be hoisted up the outside of the building to assist the soldiers.
Mali received injuries from three grenade blasts but continued with his mission to check the building.
“By the time the end of the operations came and we’d broken out the roof, we’d already realized that we’d cleared the building,” Mali’s handler said in a PDSA video. “And it was only then, when the adrenaline started to cease that reality bit and I took stock of what had actually happened to my dog.”
Mali had been injured to the chest, legs, ear, and also lost a front tooth when the third grenade detonated close to his face.
“There was blood running down to his legs, he had a hole in the top of his ear. And I thought, the first thing we need to do is get him some help,” his handler said.
Despite his injuries, Mali had continued on and carried out the mission.
His handler said Mali stopped the soldiers from following a booby-trapped route, which ultimately saved their lives.
“If they had gone up there, people would have lost arms and legs and inevitably their lives,” Mali’s handler said.
The handler said that many of his soldiers owe their lives to the dog, and compare him to the team’s guardian angel.
Returning home following the mission, Mali took some time to recuperate and thankfully made a complete recovery.
Recently, Mali was honored with a special medal to recognize his heroism.
On November 17 in honor of his service he was awarded the Dickin Medal, the highest honor a military animal can receive.
“Mali, a Belgian Malinois, will receive the honour for his heroic actions during an operation in Afghanistan in 2012, where he assisted an assault force in securing a key enemy stronghold,” the citation for the award said.
“He also indicated the presence of insurgents numerous times, giving the assault force vital milliseconds to engage the enemy in close quarter combat.”
Of the animals to win this award, Mali is the 32nd dog to receive it. Other animals to receive it include horses and pigeons.
“Mali has displayed a truly awesome ability and determination to seek out explosives and insurgents during a key operation,” said Jan McLoughlin, the head of the PDSA charity that awards the medal.
“To achieve this while exposed to close combat and such intense enemy attack makes him an incredibly worthy recipient of the PDSA Dickin medal.”
We think so too!
Mali has since retired from active service and now spends his days helping to train new Army dog handlers.