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Press Release - Top honour for dog who saved owners from a house fire
Posted on 15/06/2017

An extraordinary family dog from Dartmouth, Devon, has been honoured by leading vet charity PDSA for his life-saving devotion.

At a special ceremony in London, Staffordshire Bull terrier Diesel (who was cruelly abandoned, then rescued, as a puppy) became the latest recipient of the prestigious PDSA Gold Medal* – the animals’ George Cross.  Diesel’s award comes after he woke his family, saving their lives, when a terrifying fire ripped through their home. 

Commenting on the award, PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin said: “Despite having no formal training, Diesel’s actions showed incredible devotion to his family. His story is remarkable and truly demonstrates the unique contribution that animals make to our lives.”

Diesel’s story

During the early hours of Saturday 28 May 2016, Jordan Ash (25) was woken by his dog, Diesel, who had been sleeping at the foot of his bed.  Diesel – who was rescued by the Ash family after being abandoned when just months old – was barking, scratching and pulling at the duvet, desperate to wake his owner.

Jordan immediately knew something was seriously wrong, as Diesel’s behaviour was so out of character. He is usually very calm and relaxed, rarely barking. 

Jordan got up to take him downstairs but, on opening his bedroom door, he was met with a wall of flames only six feet away. He raced to wake up his parents, Chris (50) and Tina (54), shutting Diesel in his room to keep him safe.

Unable to use the stairs due to the fire, Jordan helped them escape through a small bedroom window over the kitchen roof.

Once they were safe he went back to collect Diesel. At this point he was almost overcome with the smoke and acrid fumes but managed to reach him.  He passed Diesel through the open window to his dad and they all climbed down to safety.

Jordan said: “Luckily, apart from a few bumps and bruises, probably from squeezing out of a tiny window, no one was seriously hurt. We all needed treatment for smoke inhalation but there was no lasting damage, thanks to Diesel.

“His whiskers were singed by the fire but we got him checked out by a vet the following day and he was fine.  I spent the next few weeks sleeping on sofas because we couldn’t find anywhere to stay that would take Diesel as well. After everything he had done for us there was no way I was going to leave him!”

The family later discovered that the fire had been caused when their fridge freezer, located under the stairs, caught alight.  It caused 60% fire damage and 90% smoke damage to their home. They weren’t able to move back in for ten months.

Chris Ash added: “”We have a smoke alarm, but I’d been decorating so I’d taken it down for a few days and not reconnected it. It’s not a mistake I will ever make again.  Without Diesel, the night could have ended very differently.” 

Jordan concluded: “I like to think it was his way of repaying us for rescuing him. Staffies have such a bad reputation but he has the most lovely, placid nature.  Diesel undoubtedly saved our lives that night: without him I wouldn’t be standing here today and I will be forever grateful.”

Read more about Diesel at

Award Reaction

The prestigious PDSA Gold Medal was presented to Diesel at The Worshipful Company of Saddlers, London. 

PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin said: “We are proud that Diesel has become the latest recipient of the PDSA Gold Medal. His determination and bravery in the face of a terrifying situation shows unwavering devotion to his family.”

“He joins an honourable line-up of dogs who, in their own unique and individual ways, have displayed incredible bravery and outstanding devotion.”

Crew Manager at Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Andy Callan, added: “The fire caused extensive damage to the family’s home, blocking the staircase, meaning they were trapped on the first floor. When we arrived they had escaped from an upstairs window and needed medical treatment for smoke inhalation. Carbon monoxide takes effect incredibly quickly - just a few more minutes breathing in the toxic fumes and Diesel may not have been able to wake them. It shows the importance of having a working smoke alarm. Had Diesel not acted so quickly and woken Jordan that night, the family wouldn’t be with us today.”

PDSA Medals

Instituted in 2002, the PDSA Gold Medal is awarded to civilian animals for life-saving bravery and exceptional devotion to duty. The Medal is now widely recognised as the animals’ George Cross. Diesel is the 26th recipient of the PDSA Gold Medal, all of whom have been dogs.
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Note to newsdesks

For further information contact the PDSA PR team on 01952 797246 or email

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