Army dog dies after handler killed
A British army sniffer dog which holds the record for finding the most weapons and homemade bombs in Afghanistan has died shortly after his handler was shot dead.
Theo, a springer spaniel, suffered a seizure after Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was killed by small arms fire while the pair were on patrol in Helmand province on Tuesday.
Three weeks ago the Ministry of Defence heralded the success of Theo who had made 14 finds of IEDS (improvised explosive devices) and weapons caches in just five months in Afghanistan.
L/Cpl Tasker of The Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, had praised the dog for his dedication. "I love my job and working with Theo. He has a great character and never tires. He can't wait to get out and do his job and will stop at nothing," he said last month.
L/Cpl Tasker died from the injuries sustained in the attack, while Theo died after returning to Camp Bastion.
The death of L/Cpl Tasker, 26, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, brings the total number of UK military personnel to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001 to 358.
In a statement released through the MoD, his family said: "There are three words that best describe Liam - larger than life. He lit up every room he walked into with his cheeky smile. He was the best son, grandson, brother and friend you could ever wish to meet.
"He died a hero doing a job he was immensely passionate about. We are so proud of him and everything he's achieved. Words can't describe how sorely he will be missed."
His girlfriend Leah Walters said: "LT never met anyone without touching their lives in some way. The amount of support both I and his family have received in the last day alone pays testament to this. I am the proudest girlfriend there could ever be and there will be an LT-sized hole in my life forever. Sleep well, my darling, my soulmate, my best friend."
Theo's death is in addition to five British military dogs killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and November last year, the MoD disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information request. The animals were being used either to sniff out explosives or to protect UK troops when they died.