Hero dogs who have helped combat extremism and track down terrorism suspects have been honored with a memorial.
It was unveiled in Suippes, northeastern France, on Thursday as a tribute to dogs across Europe who have helped soldiers, police and rescue teams for more than a century.
Featuring a sculpture of a World War I soldier and his huddled dog by Franco-Colombian artist Milthon, the memorial reflects the efforts of all “civilian and military hero dogs”.
It stands in front of the town hall of Suippes, witness to major conflicts during the war.
The town is also home to the largest military kennel in Europe, where members of the French Army’s 132nd Canine Infantry Regiment train dogs for service.
The regiment includes 650 soldiers and 550 dogs, some of whom attended the inauguration of the memorial.
The ceremony paid tribute to Diesel, a police dog killed in a raid targeting the mastermind of the Paris attacks, and Leuk, a dog who died at the hands of an extremist in Mali in 2019.
One officer, Johan, said: “It’s very important [recognition] because dogs, like humans, carry out missions, but they are not asked for their opinion.
“So for me, it’s fair to give them a medal back.”
Other dogs have been trained to detect explosives and drugs and are deployed in domestic missions and in French overseas territories – notably to fight against gold trafficking in French Guiana.
Each dog is paired with a soldier after being registered at around 18 months of age, although some are recruited as puppies.
Many dogs come from the Netherlands, Germany and other Eastern European countries, as well as France.
They are subjected to a series of trials, bravery being the most important quality, and retired when they are no longer able to fulfill their duties.