Postcard from... Mostoles


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The Independent Online

A Spanish Civil Guard dog received the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals gold medal – the animal equivalent of the UK’s George Cross – in a ceremony here in Mostoles near Madrid yesterday after it detected a hidden terrorist bomb on Mallorca in July 2009.

Ajax, a 10-year-old explosives search dog, received the award from the British-based PDSA in the presence of his handler, Sergeant Juan Carlos Alabarces Muñoz. 

The dog is believed to have saved many lives by detecting the bomb a few hours after another explosion had killed two members of the Civil Guard on the island.

Sgt Alabarces Muñoz , who had started a tour of duty on Mallorca just 24 hours before, volunteered his services and Ajax found the bomb under a car near a police barracks, after which a controlled explosion was carried out.

“It is wonderful to see his actions rewarded with the PDSA gold medal – there is no other medal quite like this which truly recognises and honours the role of animals in society,” Sgt Alabarces Muñoz said.

Ajax is the first Spanish dog to received the PDSA gold medal – and the second from outside Britain.

The first “foreign” PDSA gold medal was awarded posthumously in 2006 to Bamse, a ship’s mascot with the Norwegian minesweeper Thorodd during the Second World War. It twice saved the life of  crew members: once by knocking a knife-wielding assailant  into the sea, and by rescuing a sailor who could not swim.