MDD Rocket and Handler Vahid Mammadov Selected MDD Team of the Year

July 2018 – The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) is pleased to announce the recipient of the Mine Detection Dog Team of the Year Award as MDD Rocket and his handler, Mr. Vahid Mammadov from Azerbaijan. The competition for this award was tough, but the selection committee could clearly see that Mr. Mammadov and MDD Rocket have done incredible work in locating landmines in Azerbaijan, while also having a strong emotional connection that represents an ideal human/canine bond.

MDD Rocket, who was sponsored by Orbital ATK in 2013, has helped to search an astounding 1.9 million square meters of land in 2017 alone. Since 2005, Orbital ATK has sponsored two life-saving dogs in Azerbaijan, as well as two in Bosnia Herzegovina, one in Lebanon, and one in Sri Lanka!

The relationship between MDD Rocket and Mr. Mammadov is a truly remarkable one – one that clearly illustrates the notion of “man’s best friend.” Every morning, Mr. Mammadov takes MDD Rocket out for a run and the two spend some time playing together before starting their day’s work. In the minefield, the pair has cultivated a relationship based on trust. MDD Rocket is motivated to work by the confidence that Mr. Mammadov has in him, returning that confidence with fierce loyalty and determination. MDD Rocket and Mr. Mammadov were nominated by the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA), who acknowledged MDD Rocket as one of their best dogs that has been deployed on the minefield.

Overview of Demining Operations in Azerbaijan

Between 1988 – 1994, Azerbaijan was engaged in a war with Armenia. Even though a ceasefire agreement was signed in 1994, thousands of unexploded landmines remain scattered throughout Azerbaijan, leaving lives at risk on a daily basis. Because landmines remain active for decades and cannot distinguish between their victims, anyone can trigger one, whether it be a soldier, a mother gathering vegetables in the garden, or a young child playing in a field.

In 1998, ANAMA was established with the goal of overseeing all aspects of mine action activities in the country. Dedicated to clearing landmines, MLI began collaborating with ANAMA in 2005. Since then, MLI has provided 36 MDDs to help ANAMA pave the way toward a mine safe Azerbaijan and long-lasting peace. Together with their handlers, the MDDs have searched over 27 million square meters of land, saving countless lives.

MLI is extremely proud of ANAMA, its efficient use of MDDs, and the tremendous postive impact our dogs have had upon communities living in Azerbaijan’s mine-contaminated regions.

Mr. Mammadov and MDD Rocket have been invited to Washington, DC to attend our annual Clearing the Path Gala and to accept the award on October 24, 2018.

MLI is deeply grateful to everyone who so generously contributes to the success of the Clearing the Path Gala, including the many sponsors, donors, and volunteers.  For more information about the 2018 Clearing the Path Gala, please contact us at or (703) 243-9200.