WELLINGTON (AFP) - Nine-year-old Jack Russell terrier George is being honoured with a posthumous bravery medal for saving five New Zealand children from an attack by two pitbulls.
The medal from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) comes after US Vietnam veteran Jerrell Hudman said he was sending his Purple Heart medal to George's owner after hearing of the dog's bravery.
George, who had a heart problem, won fame after defending five children from the pitbulls in the small North Island town of Manaia a week and a half ago. The two pitbulls rushed at the five children on the street, prompting George to charge the much larger dogs as the children escaped.
The Jack Russell was badly mauled by the two pitbulls and later had to be put down because of his extensive injuries. The two pitbulls were also put down.
The SPCA medal is usually awarded to people for their bravery in defending animals.
"George was a very brave little dog who almost certainly prevented severe injury, if not death, to at least one of the children," SPCA chief executive Robyn Kippenberger said.
"It's truly tragic that he paid with his own life for his instinctive act of courage."
Hudman, 58, of Austin, Texas was a US Marine for 30 years and said he decided to send his Purple Heart to George's owner Alan Gay after reading the news on the Internet because the dog was "a little warrior".
The Purple Heart is awarded to those killed or injured fighting for the US military.