Border Collie Bryn awarded PDSA Order of Merit

A search and rescue dog from Cheshire was rewarded for his outstanding devotion to duty while working in some of the most challenging places in the world, alongside the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and UK’s International Search and Rescue Team.

Bryn received his PDSA Order of Merit during a special ceremony at the Manchester Town Hall yesterday, 16 March, having worked as a search and rescue dog alongside his handler Steve Buckley since he was a puppy. In 2009, they became one of only four UK dog teams to attain the International Rescue Dog Organisation’s ‘mission readiness test’. The test consisted of "seven searches over 36 hours, a 10km march, dog first aid and working at height".

While Bryn has mostly worked with the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, he's been deployed to building collapses, missing persons’ searches and gas explosions throughout the UK as well as internationally. He lent a paw to the search and rescues efforts in Japan after the 2011 tsunami, as well as in Nepal following the devastating 2015 earthquake Bryn retired in May 2016, after an amazing career spanning 11 years.

Commenting on the award, Steve said, “Bryn has been a dedicated and exemplary search dog throughout his career.  He never wavered from his mission and those working with him had complete faith in his detection skills.  His skills have been used to set training standards across the world. Dogs like Bryn only come along once in a lifetime and I’m incredibly lucky to have worked beside him for the past 11 years.  Receiving the PDSA Order of Merit is a fitting end to his distinguished career. I am so proud of him.”

Head of Operational Policy and Assurance at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, Gus O’Rourke, said, “Bryn and Steve have been an integral part of our International Search and Rescue Team, always ready to fly out to wherever in the world they were needed. Bryn’s deployments haven’t been without incident; in Japan, where Steve and Bryn went to help in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Bryn received serious life-threatening injuries while searching through the debris. He was treated by a field surgeon for temporary respite until he could get expert veterinary treatment.

“The pair have also been at the forefront of training other dogs and handlers, both nationally and internationally, so the great work done by these teams will continue and evolve. Many, many people the world over owe their survival to the brave, courageous work done by the search and rescue dog teams and I am so proud of both Bryn and Steve for their massive and dedicated contribution. I wish them both a long, healthy and happy retirement.”

Images by Jon Super, courtesy of PDSA.

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