A military dog based at Melton credited with saving the lives of ‘countless’ soldiers by detecting explosive devices during a long career serving in war zones has been shortlisted for a special national award.
VROOM is one of three in contention for the Service Dogs accolade, one of four categories of the Autarky Hardest Working Dog contest, after being initially nominated by 1st Military Working Dogs, based at the town’s Defence Animal Training Regiment (DATR).
If he wins the award he will be in contention to be the overall winner with a top prize including a hamper of canine products worth £500 and a year’s worth of food supplied by the sponsors.
He was nominated because of his incredible skill and commitment to his role - he spent more time in war zones than the average soldier does after beginning his service 10 years ago.
Maj Wes Quigley MBE, officer in command of the Canine Training Squadron, said: “VROOM was trained to work in the harshest environments looking for the most dangerous of devices and associated materials.
“He quickly deployed to Afghanistan where he and his handler worked with the Royal Engineers in the counter-IED Task Force.
“The nature of the conditions and items that VROOM was asked to find put him and his handler directly into harm’s way on an almost daily basis.
“He provided essential life-saving services, searching and finding countless homemade devices buried deep in the ground.
“Such was his ability to search that he spent a total of three years on operations.
“There were periods of respite for VROOM, but he spent more time in theatre than many soldiers will do in their entire military careers.”
VROOM finally left Afghanistan for good at the end of 2014 and now, in the twilight of his career, he is helping inexperienced Royal Army Veterinary Corps handlers develop confidence and gain proficiency in their vital work.
Maj Quigley added: “The DATR is where VROOM’s career will now come to an end.
“His retirement is overdue, and we hope to find this exceptional canine a forever home to see out the rest of his days in peace.”
The public will get the chance to vote for VROOM when voting opens on Monday (February 17) for his category - the other awards are for Sports & Performance Dogs, Healthcare & Assistance Dogs and Media Star Dogs.
The overall winner will be chosen by a team of expert judges, including Your Dog Magazine editor Sarah Wright.
Sam Horrell, CEO of specialist dog food producer, Autarky, the award sponsors, said: “We are delighted to be running the Hardest Working Dog campaign, as we want to showcase the varying levels of work of active dogs in the UK and to give them the chance to be recognised with a national award.
“We hope that the public will be as inspired by the dedication of these dogs as we are. Good luck to all of the nominees.”
If VROOM is the winner he will be presented with his prize at a ceremony at the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials 2020 in May.
Go online at www.autarkyfoods.com/hardest-working-dog-terms-and-conditions if you would like to vote for him, from February 17.