Scottish fire service rescue dog is ‘Animal of the Year’

'Animal of the Year' Diesel with handler Crew Commander Cary Carroll.
'Animal of the Year' Diesel with handler Crew Commander Cary Carroll.

A search and rescue dog who has saved lives in Scotland and in disaster areas in other parts of the world has been named ‘Animal of the Year’.

Diesel, a ten-years-old springer spaniel, was bestowed the accolade at the International Fund for Animal Welfare Awards.

Hosted by TV personality Bill Oddie and Lord Desai the annual event – which took place at the House of Lords – saw Diesel recognised for his contribution to both the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the United Kingdom International Search and Rescue team.

His handler Crew Commander Gary Carroll attended the ceremony with wife Marianne.

Gary said: “It was a real honour to be invited to attend the event.

“It is a proud moment for me as I’ve had Diesel since he was a puppy and seen him progress into a fully qualified search dog. We have a unique bond where he looks after me and I look after him.”

He added: “But I couldn’t do it all without the help of my wife Marianne and my two sons who have helped training Diesel and have always been there to support us.

“It’s fantastic to be here to accept this award and on behalf of both of us I’d like to pass on my thanks to whoever nominated or voted for Diesel.

“This award is not just for us but for all of the ISAR search dog teams across the UK.”

Diesel is trained to locate live scent and can search collapsed buildings and large open areas for potential casualties.

He is on-call across the all of Scotland but can also be called overseas as part of a UK Fire Service International Search and Rescue team.

In 2015, he was called to Nepal after an earthquake hit the country.

James Sawyer, UK director at the IFAW, said: “We were delighted to be able to honour Diesel with our 2019 Animal of the Year Award.

“He clearly plays a vital role in challenging rescue work both at home and overseas and his and Gary’s partnership is a great example of the amazing bond between humans and animals.”

Rob Norman is the deputy national coordinator for the UK International Search and Rescue team.

He said: ‘It is always encouraging to see team members acknowledged for the contributions they make in delivering humanitarian assistance, on behalf of the UK Government.

“As volunteers, we take the expertise and professionalism of the UK Fire and Rescue Services around the world.

“We utilise those skills to support those who need it most in times of disaster, and we bring back invaluable experiences to the communities that our team members serve here in the UK.

“Gary and Diesel continue to be outstanding ambassadors for UK Aid and the UK ISAR team.

“They are part of a small team of UK dogs whose specialist skills are used overseas, and it gives me great pleasure to see them recognised for the many years of service they have both given to humanitarian response.”