Purple Cross

Anzac Day Posted Dec 15, 2020
RSPCA remember the animals that risked their lives to save the lives of humans this Remembrance Day
In 1993, RSPCA Australia established the Purple Cross Award to recognise animals that had done just that. 

Since then only ten Purple Cross Awards have been awarded and one of these was awarded posthumously. Murphy, Simpson’s donkey was awarded the Purple Cross, to recognise the courage shown by the pack donkeys who risked their lives in World War One.

Silky Terrier Fizo was the first animal to receive the award after he saved four children from a brown snake and a year later Kelpie cross Boots saved the life of his owner, who had collapsed of a heart attack in the garden, by delivering a note to a neighbour who called the ambulance. 

Two dogs, Anzac and Rockie, received the award for rescuing their owners from burning buildings. Anzac, an Australian cattle dog, was incidentally completely deaf when bashed down the bedroom door to effect the rescue.

In Queensland we have two Purple Cross recipients, Rottweiler cross Tank and Staffy Muck, who saved the life of a toddler, in a dam near Mackay. Referred to as “four legged angels” by police investigators, Tank and Muck rescued Paul and Georgie Hillier’s two year old son Max in 2008. Drag marks located at the scene and marks on the little boys back and arms, indicated that he had been dragged from the water by the dogs. 

The incident occurred on a neighbour’s property in Andergrove (near Mackay) 300 metres from the family home. The Hillier’s dog Tank and neighbourhood companion Muck alerted the Hillier’s neighbour by barking frantically at the scene. 

When she went to investigate, she discovered “Tank” guarding the toddler, and “Muck” prowling between the child and the water’s edge as if to prevent the child from re-entering the water. At the time, Senior Constable John Morrisey said, “My inspection of the dam surrounds left me with absolutely no doubt that the only way Max escaped was with some external assistance and the only assistance available was the two dogs.”

Two ex-military dogs have also received the Purple Cross. Sarbi, an explosive detection dog and Smoky, a tiny Yorkshire terrier who helped engineers lay a teletype wire beneath an air strip in extremely hazardous conditions. Smoky later became a post- traumatic stress dog who helped numerous soldiers cope with their injuries and mental issues.

In the lead up to Remembrance Day RSPCA Qld will be selling special purple poppies to recognise those animals that have risked their lives to save ours. They’ll be available at all World for Pets stores and online at

Michael Beatty
Share this article
Find the perfect pet