Shropshire Dog who sniffed out bombs and enemy fighters while under fire from Taliban named Hero Animal of the Year

By Keri Trigg | Ludlow | News | Published:

A former army dog who sniffed out bombs and enemy fighters while under fire from the Taliban has been named Hero Animal of the Year.

Mali and his owner Lou Hackney

Eight-year-old Mali, a Belgian Malinois who now lives in Ludlow, picked up the top prize at the star-studded Mirror Animal Hero Awards.

The prize was in recognition of the bravery shown by Mali, now eight, in a battle in 2012 in Kabul.

Footage showed Mali staying calm as commandos scaled an outside wall and hauled him up several floors to bring him into action.

Sent through direct fire to search for explosives, he was hoisted up the outside of the building several times. He also skilfully detected the presence of enemy fighters.

Despite being injured by three grenade blasts causing damage to his chest, legs, ears and teeth, he persevered in the seven-and-a-half-hour mission.


Mali retired from frontline duties after lengthy treatment for injuries sustained in the firefight but is still involved in training.

Last November he was honoured with a PDSA Dickin Medal – the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.


Mali has lived in Ludlow with owners Andy and Lou Hackney for almost two years.

In partnership with People’s Postcode Lottery and Webbox, the Awards were held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

Hosted by husband and wife duo Steve Backshall and Helen Glover, the Awards honour the most inspiring animals, along with individuals and teams who have shown outstanding commitment to improving their lives.

Famous faces who attended the Awards included Paul O’Grady, Ross Kemp, Richard Hammond and Joanna Page.

Keri Trigg

By Keri Trigg
Reporter - @KeriTrigg_LDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Shropshire.

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