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Winners of 2018 Canine Hero Awards

Two incredible dogs have been recognised for their acts of service and companionship in the annual Canine Hero Awards announced at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

A NSW Police Force dog who located an elderly woman lost in dense bush in extreme heat and a Labrador who recognises when her owner’s blood sugar levels are dangerously low have been named as the 2018 Australasian Animal Registry (AAR) Sydney Royal Canine Heroes.

“Koda”, a Belgian Malinois, partnered with Police Dog Unit Handler Sergeant Duncan Abernethy in 2014 has been honoured with the AAR - Sydney Royal ‘Service Dog Award’.


On December 19th 2017, Koda located an 82 year old woman from Castle Hill who had been lost for almost two days and who had collapsed in thick scrub, well away from a walking track from where she and her husband had set out.“Across the two days the temperatures reached 42 to 44 degrees,” Sergeant Abernethy said. She was treated at the scene, paramedics who attended stating that the elderly lady would not have been alive much longer. The women’s 83 year old husband was located earlier in bush at Baulkham Hills.


Sergeant Abernethy has described the bond police dog unit officers have with their canine partners. “We work with the dogs day in, day out, so she means a great deal to me.

“She’s also a general purpose dog and they’re trained to track, search and protect you and members of the public, so it’s quite a close relationships in terms of the dog being able to protect you when you’re out working.

“So I always feel like I’m in good hands, or good paws. All police dogs would do anything for their handler and they will protect their handler at all costs and protect the people of NSW,” he said.



Koda continues to live with Sgt Abernethy and his family while she serves to protect both her owner and the public.

The Canine Hero – Service Dog Award has been presented to Sergeant Abernethy and Koda by Police Superintendant Stephen Blackmore.

Also honoured at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in the Canine Hero Awards was, ironically another Koda, a Labrador diabetes alert dog who has taken out the Companion Dog Award.

Koda has been credited on at least four occasions with saving the life of now three year old Mirandah Wilson, who has been diagnosed with unstable Type 1 Diabetes.

The first of those was when Mirandah was asleep in her car seat as a five month old. Koda began whimpering loudly knowing that something wasn’t right. That alerted Mirandah’s parents to her blood sugar levels which were dangerously low.

Unfortunately neither Mirandah nor Koda were on hand to receive the honour at Sydney Royal as Mirandah was admitted to hospital in Melbourne the previous night.

The Canine Hero Awards recognise and represent dogs everywhere who display acts of bravery or companionship.

MEDIA RELEASE, 3RD APRIL 2018
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