RSPCA Purple Cross Award
The RSPCA Australia Purple Cross Award recognises the deeds of animals that have shown outstanding service to humans, particularly if they showed exceptional courage in risking their own safety or life to save a person from injury or death.
The Award was named to honour the Purple Cross Society which was established soon after the outbreak of World War I to raise funds for the supply of gear and veterinary treatment for the Light Horse Brigade. The Purple Cross Society was disbanded in 1971 and the RSPCA in Victoria was charged with preserving and displaying the flag of the Society, which now hangs in the Council Room of the RSPCA Victoria headquarters. As a tribute to the memory of all of Australia's war horses, the RSPCA Australia exceptional animal award is known as the Purple Cross Award. Recipients of the Purple Cross Award receive a Purple Cross medal and a certificate.
If you know of an animal that has committed an act of exceptional behaviour on behalf of a human and wish to nominate that animal for an RSPCA Australia Purple Cross Award please contact your local state or territory RSPCA.
On the 5 April 2011, Sarbi was awarded an RSPCA Purple Cross Award at the Australian War Memorial. The Australian Special Forces Explosive Detections dog was declared missing in action September 2008 following a battle with the Taliban which left nine soldiers wounded, including her handler. Sarbi was missing for 13 months, before she was reunited with her handler after being spotted wandering with an Afghan man in north-eastern Oruzgan Province. During her time alone in Afghanistan, Sarbi showed an incredible resilience and strength. And it is her courage and her unquestioning, unwavering service to man that has seen her recognised for a Purple Cross.
Tank & Muck
In November 2007 Tank, a Rottweiler cross and his best mate Muck, a Staffy cross, dragged two year old Max Hillier from a dam near Mackay in Queensland, saving his life. The incident occurred on a neighbour’s property, 300 metres from the family home. Drag marks located at the scene and marks on the little boy’s back and arms, indicated that he had been dragged from the water by the dogs. Tank and Muck alerted neighbours by barking frantically at the scene. When they went to investigate, they discovered Tank guarding the toddler, and Muck prowling between Max and the water’s edge as if to prevent the toddler from re-entering the water.
The first RSPCA Australia Purple Cross Award was awarded on 25 September 1996 to Fizo, a 9-year-old silky terrier, who saved four young children from a brown snake. Fizo, who had never seen a snake before, dived at the snake that threatened the young children who were within striking range. He killed the snake but collapsed soon after from snake bites. Fizo was rushed to his vet, received antivenene and, after several days intensive care, regained consciousness. He was pronounced in good health only after six months recovery. Fizo was given the award for showing exceptional courage in saving a human.
Simpson's Donkey 'Murphy'
Simpson's donkey Murphy was awarded the RSPCA Australia Purple Cross Award posthumously by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Tim Fischer, at a ceremony at the Australian War Memorial on 19 May 1997. The award was made to Murphy on behalf of all the donkeys used by John Kilpatrick Simpson for their exceptional performance in helping humans while under continual fire at Gallipoli during World War I.
A two-year-old kelpie cross named Boots was awarded the RSPCA Australia Purple Cross Award on 28 October 1997 at the Roseneath Nursing Home in NSW where his owner is resident. On the first of April 1997, Boots' owner suffered a heart attack at his home. He managed to write a message on a piece of paper and tuck it under Boots' collar before collapsing in his front yard. After returning to his owner's side twice, Boots eventually wandered into a garden 3 km away where the note was discovered by the owner of the house who alerted the police. Although an ambulance had been called by a passer-by who saw Boots' owner lying in the yard, both the police and ambulance officers were convinced that Boots would have been instrumental in getting help to his owner because the ambulance and police arrived within minutes of each other.
A blue heeler named Anzac was awarded the RSPCA Australia Purple Cross Award on 19 November 1997 by the Premier of NSW, Bob Carr, at a ceremony at Parliament House in Sydney. The House's strict policy of 'no animals allowed' was waived so that Anzac could mingle with the dignitaries. To earn the award, Anzac, a profoundly deaf four-year-old heeler, almost knocked his owner's bedroom door down in order to warn her that the house was on fire. The owner and Anzac escaped from the house unharmed.
Rockie, a four-year-old female bull terrier, woke her owner by barking and jumping against the closed door of her bedroom while flames lurked dangerously close. Rockie then dragged her owner, who was by then semi-conscious, from the back door of her burning home to safety. She would otherwise have been dead within minutes. Rockie was awarded the RSPCA Australia Purple Cross Award on 19 November 1997 by the Premier of NSW, Bob Carr, at a ceremony at Parliament House in Sydney.
The Pikeman's Dog 'Wee Jock'
The Purple Cross Award was presented to the Pikeman's Dog posthumously at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery on 30 November 1997. The ceremony took place in front of the original Eureka Flag that the Pikeman died defending at Eureka Stockade in 1854. Detective Sergeant Peter Lalor, the great-great-grandson of Peter Lalor the leader of the diggers at Eureka Stockade accepted the award on behalf of the Eureka trust.
The Pikeman's Dog, a little terrier, showed great devotion and bravery at the death of his master at the Eureka Stockade on 3 December 1854. As a result of the attack on the miners by Crown forces, five British soldiers and some thirty miners died. Among the miners lay a Pikeman, mortally wounded with some 15 wounds. Guarding his body throughout the hours it lay unclaimed at the battlefield, and later accompanying it on the death cart as the remaining bodies were transferred to the cemetery, was this little companion. This was the Pikeman's Dog.