The lives of two hero army dogs who were due to be put down next week ‘have been saved’, it has been reported. Sky News defence correspondent Alistair Bunkall said earlier this afternoon the futures of Belgian shepherds Kevin and Dazz ‘will be safe’.
The pair worked with troops to find explosives in Helmand Province and retired four years ago, but were going to be euthanised next week if they could not be re-homed.
But now, according to Mr Bunkall, their futures are safe after Defence Minister Gavin Williamson ‘gave assurances to the dog handlers this morning’ over their fate.
He wrote: “Breaking Death Row Dog news: I’m hearing the dogs’ future will be safe. Believe Gavin Williamson gave assurances to the dog handlers this morning.”
If the two army dogs could not find new homes they would have faced lethal injections. Former soldiers and handlers called for the decision to be reversed.
Ex-soldiers and handlers wrote to the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire – where the dogs have been working with trainees since being retired – to save the pair.
Hundreds of thousands of people joined the campaign to stop the two dogs, along with police dog Driver, from being put down.
Launched by special air sergeant Andy McNab, 360,000 people have so far signed the petition.
Celebrities, including Simon Cowell, Ricky Gervais, reality show star Pete Wicks and and actress Kate Mara, have backed the cause, sharing the animals’ plight on Twitter.
McNab’s petition reads: “Dogs like Kevin, Dazz and Driver are an asset when they are serving but they even more of an asset when they are retired.”
Breaking Death Row Dog news: I'm hearing the dogs' future will be safe. Believe Gavin Williamson gave assurances to the dog handlers this morning.
— Alistair Bunkall (@AliBunkallSKY) December 4, 2017
“We owe them every chance possible to be housed and not killed.”
He praised service dogs for saving ‘countless lives when I was in the Special Air Service sniffing out explosives’.
“In Afghanistan when I was on a patrol the dogs found an IED in front of us, I was number three in line, I was very, very lucky to survive.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said on Friday: “Wherever possible, we endeavour to re-home them (dogs) at the end of their service life. Sadly, there are some occasions where this is not possible.”
The Ministry of Defence said today they were not in a position to comment.