Campaigners this morning (Tuesday) are celebrating after two military dogs based at Melton’s Defence Animal Centre were saved from being put down
The Ministry of Defemce (MOD) was planning to euthanise Dazz and Kevin, who both served in Afghanistan with British forces, because they could not be rehomed after retiring from duty.
More than 20,000 people signed a petition, launched by former SAS serviceman and author Andy McNab, and Melton MP Sir Alan Duncan also made a desperate 11th hour plea for a stay of execution.
And today, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson dramatically announced the Belgian Malinois duo had been reprieved.
Mr Williamson told The Sun newspaper, which ran a campaign backed by more than 300,000 readers: “I’ve instructed my department these dogs are to be saved. “We’re talking with charities and looking at a programme as to whether they can be re-housed with a handler in a more normal environment.”
Sir Alan Duncan told the Melton Times this morning: “I’m absolutely thrilled that the army hero dogs Kevin and Dazz have been saved.
“They can now enjoy a very happy and well deserved retirement.”
Dazz and Kevin had been working with trainees at the Melton camp and Sir Alan argued that they deserved to enjoy their retirement.
He contacted the MOD on two occasions after hearing about the animals’ plight.
Before the reprieve was confirmed, Sir Alan said: “These are hero dogs who have fought fearlessly alongside our soldiers.
“Let us now be the ones to fight for them and give them a chance to live happy lives where they can thrive - it is the least they deserve.
“Of course, it is of great importance that all military dogs must be properly assessed to ensure they do not pose a danger to civilians, but only in circumstances where such danger has been properly proven should they be put down.
“I have written to MOD ministers to personally ask for a reprieve and am awaiting a response.”
Sir Alan said he has been told letters of support had been sent to the MOD offering homes to these dogs, but they have been rejected.
He is concerned the animals have not been given a proper and fair assessment before this decision was taken, he said.
On his petition, Mr McNab, who is also campaigning to save a former police dog, called Driver, from being euthanised, writes: “Experienced handlers have come forward to say they want to house the much-loved dogs, who have helped save hundreds of lives.
“Kevin and Dazz served in Afghanistan where they searched for explosives and Driver worked for the police force.
“Service dogs have saved my life on numerous occasions.
“We have a duty to save them.”
Dog behaviourist and Melton Times columnist Lynne Marshall said: “I am so pleased that the MOD have taken the right decision not to euthanise these dogs who have worked tirelessly in service for our military personnel.
“I hope that the MOD will review the entire process now and put in place a system to prevent military and police dogs being destroyed at the end of their working career.”
The issue arose just days after another military dog based at the DAC - a Malinois called Mali - was awarded the highest bravery honour available to military animals - the PDSA Dickin Medal.
He, too, served in Afghanistan and continued to work despite sustaining serious injuries from grenade attacks. Mali helps train dogs now at the camp.