WELLINGTON - George, a Jack Russell terrier that died saving five children being attacked by pit bulls in New Zealand two years ago, is to get Britain’s highest award for animal bravery, a newspaper reported Thursday.
The award, which has been made only 15 times since it was introduced by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals of the Poor in 2001, is to be made to George’s owner, Alan Gay, the Taranaki Daily News reported.
The dispensary’s Gold Medal is the animal equivalent of the George Medal, which is Britain’s highest civilian bravery award. It is given to ‘any animal that is instrumental in saving human or animal life when its own life is in jeopardy or through outstanding devotion to duty’.
‘There’s no doubt that George was a small dog with a lion’s share of courage,’ dispensary director general Jan McLoughlin said.
‘Each account of his devotion to the five children that day tells of a canine companion that was not afraid to face great fear in order to protect his friends.’
Gay told the newspaper that George had already been awarded a bravery medal in New Zealand: a US Vietnam War veteran gave his Purple Heart, a bronze statue of the dog was built from a public fund and a Swedish pop group recorded a song in his tribute.
‘I feel good about receiving it,’ he said of the medal, ‘but I hope it’s the last one because George is dead and all this has gone on long enough.’