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5 July 2010, 06:00
A Norfolk soldier has gone over and above to save a life whilst out on patrol in Afghanistan.
He found a group of children throwing stones at a puppy whilst going about his duties, and stepped in to break them up.
IN the centre of the circle the children had formed was a two-month-old puppy, which had been injured.
Trooper Michael Pannell, who serves with the Queen’s Royal Lancers, had been on a routine foot patrol outside Lashkar Gah in Helmand province when he came across the scene.
The 24-year-old from Norwich said: “The children were pelting stones into an alley and my suspicion rose when I heard a yelp coming from the corner.
“That’s when I discovered the puppy. I made sure the children left the area before carrying on with the patrol.”
But the frightened puppy had other ideas and followed its rescuer for the rest of the patrol - and all the way back to the base.
Michael, who is part of Fondouk Squadron, said: “I was slightly surprised. I didn’t expect the puppy to follow me so far.
“I decided to patch up the dog, give her a much-needed bath, some food and water, and do what I could for her minor injuries.”
The puppy took to following Michael everywhere but, what with the risk of wild dogs, disease and Michael’s busy job, it meant she could not stay with him forever.
So on another patrol - without the puppy this time – Michael found a local family who were prepared to take care of her.
He said: “The puppy is doing well and has made a full recovery. The family regularly invite me for a cup of chai to see how she’s getting on.
“I’m very glad she has found a better home - not just for the dog’s sake, but for mine too. Looking after the puppy was becoming a 24-hour job and we’re busy enough out here!”
Fondouk Squadron is part of an armoured unit, but mainly carries out foot patrols in Lashkar Gah to provide security, keep the area free of Improvised Explosive Devices and prevent a return of Taliban forces.