ARMY chiefs have revealed the heroic lives and deaths of five British Army dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The military working dogs were killed in action fighting alongside their human comrades.
One was cut down by his soldier handler's side during a firefight in Afghanistan while others were killed guarding frontline troops.
A Sunday Mail investigation showed that two guard dogs and three arms and explosives search dogs made the ultimate sacrifice in the last three years.
Our probe also highlights the efforts by Army staff to keep the unsung hero dogs in the fight.
Handlers are trained in canine first aid and four-legged casualties are often evacuated by helicopter from frontline bases for life-saving veterinary treatment.
In one horrific attack on July 24, 2008, Lance Corporal Ken Rowe and his golden Labrador Sasha, of the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, were killed in a Taliban rocket ambush.
Ken had volunteered to stay behind with his dog because he was worried about a lack of cover for his comrades on patrol.
Sasha and the 24-year-old, of Newcastle, died side by side as they searched compounds for enemy weapons in the notorious Sangin area.
Army vet Captain Tom Roffe-Silvester was responsible for the health of scores of dogs at his clinic at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.
He said: "Obviously, in an emergency, humans are always given priority but in Afghanistan, military working dogs are given treatment just as good as that given to soldiers.
"They are trained to an extremely high standard. When the dog finds weapons, drugs or an improvised explosive device, it gives an indication to its handler by sitting or standing up.
"There are hundreds of dogs in the Army and their service is essential.
"We have to make sure they are acclimatised to the heat in Afghanistan and they get two weeks to get used to the temperatures.
"We also take care of their paws as the terrain is much more harsh there than what they are used to in the UK or bases in Germany.
"We even have specially made boots for them to deal with the terrain. The handlers are also trained in first aid and can deal with heat illnesses, allergies, burns, poisonings and fractures.
"Our vet clinic at Camp Bastion is staffed by a nurse and a veterinary technician at all times. When the handler is given a period of rest and recuperation, the dog is given a health assessment and rest.
"In Afghanistan, dogs save dozens of lives every day of the week. As well as sniffing out bombs and weapons, they can be trained to find drugs - the main source of cash for the Taliban."
A sniffer dog called Benji spearheaded a strike by Scots troops against Taliban warlords last year - by finding 250kg of opium and a deadly cache of weapons.
The three-year-old Labrador sniffed out the haul, potentially worth millions, during a raid by 3 Scots, the Black Watch, in Sangin.
His handler, Private Edward Buckland, 25 - pictured below with Benji - said: "Finding the explosives and drugs is like a game to Benji. When he finds them, he gets his reward - his toy ball. It is work but he also enjoys it and he has fun."
Arms and explosive search dog Benji was killed in support of a convoy in Iraq on April 29 last year.
Labrador Max was killed searching for weapons in Basra, Iraq, on February 19 last year.
German Shepherd Oz was working as a guard dog in Musa Qala, Afghanistan, when he was killed on September 28, 2008.
Golden Labrador Sasha died with Lance Corporal Ken Rowe in Afghanistan in July 2008.
German Shepherd Hero, a protection dog with 1st Battalion, Royal Horse Artillery, was killed on patrol in Iraq on August 7, 2007.
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