Devon hero dog wins ‘Animals’ George Cross’ for bravery

By Kate Cotton in Local People

DIESEL, the heroic Staffordshire bull terrier, saved his family’s lives during a house fire and was presented with the PDSA Gold Medal, or the ‘Animals’ George Cross’, at a recent ceremony in London.

He saved three people’s lives when he alerted them to a fire sweeping through their house in the middle of the night.

Diesel was abandoned tied to a tree at nine months old, and then spent several months at the Animals in Distress Rescue Centre in Ipplepen before being rehomed by the Ash family from Dartmouth.

In the early hours of one morning last May, Diesel’s owner Jordan and the rest of the Ash family were all sleeping peacefully when Diesel alerted them that something was wrong. Diesel stirred from where he was sleeping at the foot of Jordan’s bed, and began burrowing and scratching at the duvet, barking and licking Jordan’s face – he was on a mission to wake him.

Realising something was wrong, Jordan got up and opened the bedroom door, to see a wall of flames half way up the stairs, only six feet away from him. He pushed his mum and dad’s bedroom door open, and ran in to wake them up.

Jordan’s dad Chris climbed out of the spare bedroom window and together they helped his mum Tina to get out onto the kitchen roof. Jordan ran back to get Diesel, who was now hiding under the bed terrified. The whole upper storey of the house was now completely filled with smoke, and the fire was advancing quickly. Jordan said he almost fainted when picking up Diesel but managed to get himself together and ran out with Diesel. The fire was so close as they ran past that Diesel’s whiskers were singed in the flames.

Jordan passed Diesel out of the window to Chris, and then jumped out onto the kitchen roof, from where they were all able to climb down and wait for the fire brigade.

The next day the family took Diesel to the vet to be checked over, where he was pronounced completely fine.

The house was completely gutted by the fire, which had been caused by their freezer catching fire under the stairs. Everything was gone, including the staircase, and the whole house had to be refitted.

Diesel’s owner Jordan said: ‘I like to think it was his way of repaying us for rescuing him. Staffies have such a bad reputation but he has the most lovely, placid nature. Diesel undoubtedly saved our lives that night. Without him I wouldn’t be standing here today and I will be forever grateful.’

A spokesperson for Animals in Distress said: ‘We’re all so proud of Diesel, and over the moon that he has won this award.’

The PDSA Gold Medal, started in 2001, rewards acts of animal bravery and exceptional devotion to duty, and is the highest honour for outstanding animal bravery in civilian life. Diesel was awarded the prestigious medal by Princess Alexandra, at a special ceremony in the City of London.