First recipients of the Animals in War & Peace Distinguished Service Medal
Hurricane, Smoky, Feco
first first
United States ()

On 9 March 2022, three dogs, named Hurricane, Smoky and Feco, were awarded the inaugural Animals in War & Peace Distinguished Service Medal on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, USA. The accolade is bestowed on animals who work with the military (in a non-combat capacity) or are first responders and have performed acts of extraordinary service, above the call of duty, which has been of significant help to a unit, command or department. It is also awarded in recognition of sustained excellence in the performance of duties.

Hurricane, a Belgian Malinois, worked for the US Secret Service and protected President Obama and his family when an intruder entered the White House in 2014; he also received the PDSA’s Order of Merit in 2019. Smoky was a Yorkshire Terrier who served with the 5th Army Air Force during World War II; she helped to lay communications wires in the Philippines (her small size allowing her to travel through pipes) and has also been described as one of the earliest therapy animals, bringing cheer to recuperating soldiers in field hospitals. Hungarian Viszla Feco, based in San Francisco, California, works for the Canine Explosive Detection Team, part of the US Coast Guard; he has conducted more than 365 searches for incendiary devices to date.

At the same ceremony, three other dogs (Nemo, Ziggy and Cairo) received the Animals in War & Peace Medal of Bravery, the second time this award had been bestowed. The medal recognizes those who have performed outstanding acts of heroism in wartime, “conspicuously distinguishing themselves by displaying gallantry and acts of valor within the performance of their duties”.

They join eight other animals who received Medals of Bravery at the inaugural ceremony held on 14 November 2019: Bass, Bucca, Lucca, Stormy and Chips (all dogs); GI Joe and Cher Ami (both pigeons); and Staff Sergeant Reckless (a horse).

Animals in War & Peace separates the two awards by stating that “The Distinguished Service Medal is to recognize animals who distinguish themselves by extraordinary heroism not justifying the Medal of Bravery award.”

Suggestions for suitable candidates are compiled by a five-member nominating boards and a 10-member advisory board. Nominations are also received from the military, first responders and members of the public. The charity is overseen by author and animal advocate Robin Hutton (USA).