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Marine Corps dog Lucca who saved lives receives award

LONDON — A Marine Corps dog that sniffed out explosives and protected thousands of troops has been honored with a prize for animals serving bravely in military conflict.

Lucca, a 12-year-old German Shepherd, won the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, a decoration for bravery. She is the first Marine Corps dog to receive the honor.

The award is presented by PDSA, a veterinary charity that is not connected to the British military, a spokesman for the group said. Lucca was nominated for the Dickin Medal by Marines. The award itself is not officially connected to the Victoria Cross.

Lucca is credited with saving thousands of allied troops and never had a human casualty on one of her patrols. On her final patrol in Afghanistan, she discovered a 30-pound improvised explosive device and was searching for more when a second device detonated. Lucca lost her left leg, but survived.

Her owner, Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was by her side Tuesday in London as she received the medal.

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