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PDSA Dickin Medal celebrates 80th anniversary
Simon is the only cat to have received the PDSA Dickin Medal.
Charity honours animals that served in armed forces.

Veterinary charity PDSA is marking 80 years of the PDSA Dickin Medal, which was founded during the Second World War to honour animals serving in the military.

On Sunday, 12 November, PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin laid a wreath at the Cenotaph to commemorate the animals who served during the two world wars.

The charity is also highlighting the stories of four previous recipients on a special page on its website.

PDSA founder Maria Dickin launched the medal in 1943 with the support of the War Office and Imperial War Museum. The first PDSA Dickin Medals were awarded in December of that year to three carrier pigeons called Winkie, White Vision and Tyke.

Considered to be the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, the medal has been awarded a total of 75 times to animals that have shown conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty.

One of the recipients being highlighted by the charity is Simon, the only cat to receive a PDSA Dickin Medal. Simon served on board HMS Amethyst during the Chinese Civil War.

Despite being injured when the ship came under fire from the People’s Liberation Army, Simon helped protect the ship’s limited food supply from rats as it sat stranded in the Yangtze River for almost 10 weeks.

For his work hunting rats and raising the morale of the crew, Simon received the PDSA Dickin Medal in 1949.

Ms McLoughlin said: “We are incredibly proud to be celebrating 80 years of the PDSA Dickin Medal, and as such recognising all of its incredible recipients.

“The PDSA Dickin Medal has demonstrated time and time again how absolutely vital animals are to the war effort. They bring a unique set of skills that no man, woman or machine could match.

“From our first-ever pigeon recipient in 1943 to German shepherd Bass, our most recent PDSA Dickin Medal recipient earlier this year, every single animal who has been awarded the medal over the years is remembered and celebrated today.”

Image © PDSA


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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
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NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.