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White House guard dog honored with UK award for protecting Obama family

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Peter Summers/Getty Images(LONDON) — A Secret Service dog who protected President Barack Obama and his family from a White House intruder flew to the United Kingdom with his trainer to receive a medal for devotion to duty.

Hurricane is the first international dog to receive the Order of Merit from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals. It’s an award the British veterinary charity calls the “animal equivalent of the Royal Order of the British Empire (OBE).”

Hurricane, a black Belgian Malinois, is a Special Operations Canine, part of the USSS Emergency Response Team. During the night of Oct. 22, 2014, an intruder scaled the north lawn fence at the White House. Hurricane leaped at the intruder, past the last guard who had the intruder at gunpoint, and took him off his feet, eventually pushing him back to the perimeter fence.

Former Secret Service Special Operations canine handler Marshall Mirarchi flew to the U.K. with Hurricane to receive the award. The two worked together between 2012 and 2016 and have been together since Hurricane’s retirement.

“It was very hard to watch,” said Miraichi in a video posted by the charity. “I’ve never had to see my dog get hit like that, slammed like that, kicked, punched. He was cut up pretty good from the fight. I knew it was bad. Hurricane went in and did that so we didn’t have to.”

Hurricane is the 31st animal to receive the award and the first one from outside of the U.K.; in the past, the award has gone to 19 dogs and 12 horses.

Past winners include Metropolitan Police Dogs, who worked after the 2017 terrorist attacks on London, and the Metropolitan Police Horses who help keep the capital safe and escort the queen, according to a statement that PDSA sent to ABC News.

The Order of Merit “recognises animals who display outstanding devotion above and beyond normal companionship, and animal acts that symbolise their special relationship with humans,” the organization said.

The awards program was started in 1943 by the charity’s founder Maria Dickin. She believed that recognizing animals’ heroic actions and role in society would raise their status and ensure they were better treated.

This is the second time a U.S. service dog has won a British award. Lucca, a German shepherd, received the PDSA Dickin Medal in 2016 after completing 400 missions in six years of active service with allied troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. He lost a a leg on the battlefield.

“Hurricane receiving the PDSA order of merit is absolutely and incredible honor,” said Mirarchi in the video. “He stopped someone getting in the front door of the white house where the president and his family were right there.”

“If I ever had to choose between me or him, I would choose him. And that an easy choice to make because he would choose me — he did choose me,” he said.

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