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Historic Heroes – a tribute to pets who save lives

Approx. 3 minutes read

Pet Hero loves heroic animals so we’ve compiled some of these amazing heroic stories to share with you. This time around we are taking you back to the heroic animals that helped humans during wartime. They were amazing and brave little heroes who risked their lives to save others and got awarded for their bravery. Have a look at our heroes from the past!

These seven pet heroes are worth remembering!


In 1966, while stationed in Vietnam, Nemo the German shepherd alerted his handler to a group of hidden Viet Cong that were spying in the bushes at night. The results of the confrontation that night left the enemy soldiers incapacitated, but unfortunately Nemo was blinded in one eye and his handler severely injured by gunfire wounds.

Nemo crawled on top of his handler’s body, protecting him from any further harm until medics were able to save them both. Nemo became an instant hero and was given permanent retirement.


Lex and his handler J. Lee were deployed to Iraq in November 2006 as an explosive detection patrol team. Lee was tragically killed a week before his 21st birthday during an attack at their operating base. In spite of his injuries, the dog didn’t want to leave Lee’s side after the attack, protecting Lee’s body from anyone wanting to come near him.

Lex then recovered from his wounds and returned to duty shortly thereafter. The bomb sniffing dog has now retired and was handed over to Lee’s family to spend the rest of his life loved and appreciated.

Sergeant Stubby

Sergeant Stubby was a brave mixed-breed pit bull who snuck his way into World War I in France and became a mascot for the unit. He served 103 infantries and 26 Yankee divisions. Shortly after joining the battlefield, Stubby and his unit got hit with poison gas. Stubby survived the attack.

The poison attack helped Stubby’s senses in becoming more sensitive to deadly chemical smells. He would alert the unit of incoming attacks giving them enough time to put on their gas masks. Stubby became an ideal search-and-rescue dog. He sniffed out a German spy, earning him a promotion to sergeant – the only dog ever to receive such a promotion in combat.


Smoky was one of the smallest war dogs known, weighing only 1.81 kg and 180 mm tall. This very tiny Yorkshire terrier served in the South Pacific medical theatre during World War II. She was found by an American soldier in New Guinea. Smoky tagged along on 12 combat missions and survived 150 raids. She was awarded eight battle stars.

Almost 50 years later on Veterans Day 2005 (an official United States public holiday that honours military veterans) a bronze life-size sculpture of Smoky sitting in a GI helmet, on top a two-ton blue granite base was unveiled. The sculpture was placed at the very same place where Smoky was laid to rest.


Rags was found by Private Donovan who mistook him for a pile of rags (thus giving Rags just that name). Donovan’s job was to string communication wire between advancing infantry and supporting field artillery. When communication wires were destroyed, runners were used to repair or replace them, but they frequently got wounded, killed or could not get through shell holes and barbed wire.

Donavan then trained Rags to carry messages attached to his collar. When Donavan’s unit was surrounded, Rags carried a message asking for support, which saved the lives of 42 men.


Simon was a black and white domestic shorthair cat who served on the Royal Navy as a mascot, by hunting rats that were overrunning the damaged ship. Simon got injured during the Chinese civil war, leaving sailors to think he wouldn’t make it overnight, but he did. Simon was awarded an Amethyst campaign ribbon for his valiant service, Dickin Medal for animal gallantry, Animal Victoria Cross, and the Blue Cross medal for his bravery.

Simon is the only cat to have received the Dickin Medal and when he put his head to rest, he was buried with full naval honours.


The born-and-raised cat ship Tiddles served on a Royal Navy aircraft carrier and the HMS Victorious in the early 1940s as the official Captain’s Cat. It can be assumed that he performed his duties ably, since he traveled over 30,000 miles during his naval service. Tiddles could also be one of the reasons why the black cat is considered lucky in Great Britain.

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