Animal World’s Equivalent of the Victoria Cross. Discussion

Sasha and her handler were killed on patrol in Afghanistan. Sasha, a labrador, made 15 confirmed discoveries of hidden weapons, bomb-making equipment and improvised explosives in Afghanistan before both she and her handler was shot dead while on patrol in 2008.

Sasha  portrait
Sasha the dog who was awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross but who was killed in Afghanistan, shot dead on patrol, in 2008
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PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals), a well known veterinary charity awarded Sasha the Dickin Medal, the highest gallantry award for an animal serving in conflict.

Wonderful. It is wonderful to acknowledge an animal bravely going about her work in a theatre of war. The director-general of PDSA said:

This medal, recognised worldwide as the animals’ Victoria Cross, honours Sasha’s unwavering service and her ultimate sacrifice.

The Royal Army Veterinary Corps said it was delighted with the award. It showed how Sasha’s devotion and skills has saved many troops in Afghanistan. The handler was Sgt. Andy Dodds.

That is the short history. Those are the facts but what about the philosophical arguments of using animals in warfare? I don’t know much about philosophy but I do know that wars are human creations. They are about people in conflict. They are unnecessary and they represent a failure of humankind’s ability to resolve disputes in a sensible manner.

Do people have the right to enlist companion animals to help them fight in wars which could be avoided but for the fact that people simply don’t have the skills or the personality to resolve disputes in an amicable and sensible manner?

A dog, or any other animal enlisted to fight on behalf of humans, has no concept of war at all. That is obvious. A dog does not know he is doing something to help the military win a war. I would doubt very much whether the dog knows he is sniffing out explosives. A dog is simply sniffing out the scent of explosives but he does not know what explosives are. He does not know what war is and he does not know that he may be killed. For that reason, you could argue that it is immoral to put animals into war on behalf of people. If that is true then it could also be argued that it is inappropriate to award an animal the equivalent of the Victoria Cross because it validates the process of using animals in war.

We don’t want to support the idea that animals in war is a good idea. We want to argue that war itself is a bad idea. And if the military need to discover where explosives are by the roadside in Afghanistan, it could be argued that military personnel should do it themselves or devise methods to do it which are effective and at the same time which do not expose them to danger.

There is a similarity between animals being used in war and animals being used in laboratories for medical testing purposes. That’s the way I see it.

I can’t say that I am totally against animals being used in war and I admire Sasha and all the other animals who were killed in combat for a reason they never comprehended. I just like to present some counter arguments to de-glorify war.

12 thoughts on “Animal World’s Equivalent of the Victoria Cross. Discussion”

  1. I’m curious though, what you think about other kinds of service dogs? Seeing eye dogs, seizure sniffing dogs, etc. They live a life of servitude, and seem to be happy about it. Do you think they want that life? It might add to the conversation.

    I dream of the world where there are no wars and we wouldn’t have to even discuss this.

    • I think service dogs are good because the cause is good. The reason is good. There is nothing bad about it. It is safe for the dog. The dogs are doing something which is an extension of what they normally do as a companion animal. Dogs in war zones are supporting war, which is a failure and are in mortal danger as well.

  2. I don’t think animals should be used in this way either, they can’t consent to helping to fight a war! No one is forced to be a soldier nowadays, are they? They choose to do it, animals don’t have that choice. What is the good of a ‘Victoria Cross’ to any dog, dead OR alive?

  3. No they don’t. They should not be ‘used’ in war. They get paid with what? Food? Better get that in a nice home than on the battlefield with a bunch of macho warmongers.

    Sorry – but no dog’s life is worth a human life. No dog should die to save a human.


    In this day and age it is the human who should die to save the dog. Seeing yet another animal die for human consumption or use or war etc – it happens everyday. The inverse happens very rarely. And they have the nerve to call it the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ – that is beyond disgusting. Do they think the dog would have voluntarily given up it’s life for the human? Freaks, perverts and idiots – the lot of them.

    The dog doesn;t know its making the ‘ultimate scarifice’ – therefore it cannot be called a sacrifice from the point of view of the dog. Idiots. Seriously. It’s the ultimate sacrifice FOR HUMANS, not bloody dogs. They should say something more like:

    “thank you dog for letting us use you and letting us put you in harms way and ultimately die, something that for us humans is the ultimate sacrifice”

    That’s what they should say.

    • Well said. Couldn’t say it better. Totally agree actually but I tend to use moderated language in articles but sometimes regret it because my feelings are stronger. I just don’t want to upset someone.

    • exactly well said could’ve said it better myself You always know the right words to say. NO dog should have to go to fight off for war. There are good service dogs that serve a good cause. i.e blind dogs, epilepsy ones etc. No animal should have to be put though that ordeal


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