Articles this week in the Weekly Standard and Philanthropy Today highlight Maria Dickin, the creator of the Dickin Medal, which
honors animals who perform heroic deeds. -Editor
A remarkable fact of nature is that animals sometimes save our lives—and when they do they deserve credit for their achievements. Graham Hillard,
an English professor at Trevecca Nazarene University, does this in his profile of the Dickin Medal in the Weekly Standard.
The Dickin Medal was the idea of Maria Dickin (1870-1951). Dickin was an energetic Edwardian social reformer. In 1917 she saw many wounded animals
abandoned in poverty-stricken London. Hillard quotes Dickin, in her 1950 memoir The Cry of the Animal, saying how she saw “many dogs and cats walking
on three legs, dragging along a broken or injured limb; others nearly blind with mange; covered with sores; nearly all looking dejected and miserable
and searching for food in the gutter.”
Dickin resolved to help these abandoned animals, and in 1917 founded the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, which celebrated its centennial
last year. But her other great idea came about in 1943, when she noticed that animals were doing their part to win World War II. Shouldn’t they be
recognized for their achievements?
So she created the Dickin Medal, which is given to animals who perform heroic deeds that help humans. It’s the highest award an animal can
get, and is regarded as the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.
At first the medal was primarily awarded to pigeons. Beach Comber received a medal for conveying the first news of the abortive Canadian landing
in Dieppe, France in 1942 Gustav performed a similar role with the D-Day invasion in 1944. Other pigeons provided life-saving notices of aircrews
that had crashed in the desert or the sea. White Vision, the first recipient of a Dickin Medal, flew nine hours in bad weather to alert the military
about a downed aircrew.
To read the complete articles, see:
Dickin Medal awards, a great philanthropic
‘We Also Serve’
Wayne Homren, Editor
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