Diesel, the French police dog who was killed in a raid in the aftermath of the Paris attacks is to be posthumously awarded the Dickin medal for bravery. The seven-year-old Belgian shepherd died from multiple gunshot wounds on 18 November, when he was sent into a building in the St Denis suburb, where the mastermind behind the Paris massacre, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was believed to be in hiding.
On 19 December, French authorities confirmed that the Belgian Isis jihadist was one of the two people killed in the police raid on the apartment in Saint-Denis. Seven others were arrested after police raided the flat in search of suspects linked to the 13 November attacks in Paris that left 129 dead, and wounded more than 350 people. Abaaoud was reported as being the target of the Saint-Denis raid.
News of Diesel's death in the line of duty during the raid was reported by French police on Twitter and the phrase Je Suis Chien went viral on social media following an outpouring of shared grief at the loss.The police dog has now been recognized by the vet charity PDSA for "bravery and devotion to duty" and will be bestowed the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross next year.
PDSA director-general Jan McLoughlin told Sky News: "Following the tragic terrorist events in Paris last month, where many innocent people lost their lives, Diesel was instrumental in helping the French police locate and deal with the perpetrators.
"When news emerged of Diesel's death there was a huge outpouring of grief. As guardians of the world's most prestigious animal awards programme, we were inundated by messages from members of the public to recognise his heroism.
"The PDSA Dickin Medal recognises conspicuous devotion to duty in the theatre of conflict and Diesel is a truly deserving recipient. 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."
Diesel's handler, who cannot be named for security reasons, described the dog's tragic final moments. He said: "After a few minutes we decided to send in the dog to see if the zone was clear. He 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."
Earlier this month Russia handed a two-month-old German Shepherd called Dobrynya to the French to replace Diesel in a show of solidarity in the global fight against terror.