A hero police dog has been posthumously given a bravery award after he saved his handler’s life – by jumping into the path of a BULLET.
German Shepherd Gage was killed during a routine drugs search with Senior Constable Bruce Lamb on July 13, 2010.
The duo were called to assist colleagues at a house in Christchurch, in New Zealand and told to arrest a suspect, Christopher Smith, 34, who had hid in a bedroom.
But as Senior Constable Lamb entered the room with the five-year-old dog, he was shot in the face by a rifle – shattering his jaw and sending him crashing to the floor.
The officer looked up to see the gun being pointed directly at him but remarkably his faithful companion Gage leapt across his body and took the second bullet.
Despite his serious injuries, Senior Constable Lamb managed to escape from the room with Gage while raging gunman Smith continued to shoot at other officers.
Once outside the room, police realised the bullet had hit and killed their faithful dog who was lying motionless in the street.
Senior Constable Lamb was rushed to hospital for emergency medical treatment and Smith was arrested shortly afterwards.
He was sentenced to 14 years in jail on July 24, 2010 for crimes including attempted murder and killing a police dog.
Last night (Wed), heroic Gage received the animal equivalent of the George Cross from from UK veterinary charity PDSA at a moving ceremony in New Zealand.
The PDSA Gold Medal is only given to animals that are instrumental in saving human or animal life when its own life is in jeopardy or through outstanding devotion to duty.
Speaking the presentation in Christchurch, Senior Constable Lamb said: “Gage was a strong and unique dog, and had been by my side constantly since joining the police.
“The thing I regret most about that day, even though it was outside of my control due to my injuries, was having to leave him on his own after he had laid down his life for me.
“The presentation is not just recognising Gage’s sacrifice, it’s also about honouring his life and courage. I’ll forever be indebted to him.”
PDSA’s Director General, Jan McLoughlin, added: “When I first heard about what happened in Christchurch it struck me that, as the horrifying events unfolded, Gage must have been just as terrified as his human colleagues.
“Despite it ultimately costing his life, Gage continued to perform his duty and protected his handler, an act of bravery that epitomises the unique bond between man and dog, which should never be underestimated.
“The PDSA Gold Medal is only awarded for the most extreme acts of courage and dedication.
“Gage’s actions and sacrifice on that day undoubtedly saved the life of Senior Constable Lamb. He is an exceptionally worthy recipient.”
Recalling the fateful day, Senior Constable Lamb described the moment he realised Gage had saved his life.
He said: “I shouted out ‘police’, and carefully pushed open the bedroom door. Gage, as always, was close by my side, alert and ready for action.
“The room was in darkness, but as I entered I could see the shadow of a person just in front of me. All of a sudden I saw a flash and a bullet hit me in the face.
“I was about to be shot again, and probably killed, when Gage suddenly leapt into action.
“I felt him jump and launch himself over me. As I felt his paws pushing on my back, a second shot was fired.
“I looked down to find Gage lying motionless in the middle of the street.
“At that moment I realised that the bullet fired, intended for me, had in fact hit and killed my faithful companion.”
Senior Constable Bruce Lamb’s jaw bone was shattered into 15 pieces by the first bullet that struck him.
The brave officer has since returned to front-line policing with his a new police dog, a black Labrador named Mylo.
Gage’s name now joins a list of 22 other animal heroes who have previously been awarded the PDSA Gold Medal.
Other recipients include UK police explosives search dogs Vinnie, Jake and Billy for their lifesaving work in the aftermath of the July 7 terrorist bombings in London in 2005.
Most recently, Spanish civil guard dog, Ajax, was honoured in June 2013 for his work detecting an ETA bomb during a terrorist campaign on the island of Majorca.