Metropolitan Police horses and dogs that safeguarded life and property during the London riots in August 2011 have been honoured with the inaugural presentation of the PDSA Order of Merit.

Like the OBE, the PDSA Order of Merit recognises distinguished excellence through service to society. Ten horses and one dog representative have become the first recipients of the award, introduced by veterinary charity PDSA, to recognise outstanding acts of devotion.

It is the first time the animals have been formally recognised for their dedicated work during the public disorder, which included protecting the public, the police and fire fighters.

The animals were presented with their awards by PDSA patron HRH Princess Alexandra, at the The Honourable Artillery Company today in London.

Chief inspector Ade Adelekan said: “We are honoured our horses and dogs are to be the first recipients of the PDSA Order of Merit.

“Had it not been for the deployment of police animals, their handlers and riders across London, there would have been significantly more harm caused to our communities and to the officers trying to restore order to the streets.”

PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said: “Today we pay tribute to some truly exceptional acts of devotion. The extreme situations these animals faced exceeded anything they had experienced before.

“It is testament to their character and steadfast resolution that they have become the first recipients of the PDSA Order of Merit*.”

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