Patron excitedly wagged his tail and barked when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky awarded him a medal on Sunday for his bomb-detecting services.
The little Jack Russell terrier has won hearts at home and abroad since the beginning of the Russian invasion for his role in detecting landmines and educating children about the dangers posed by explosives, that Russian troops scattered along their withdrawal route from northern Ukraine.
Zelensky said in a statement after the ceremony that the award-winning dog was a “small but very famous sapper”, and that their work in teaching children to avoid landmines “It is now one of the most urgent tasks.”
Dogs have been used for demining since World War II due to their ability to detect explosive devices faster than humans. Experts say they are especially effective in conflict zones, where large amounts of debris clog standard metal detectors.
A dog’s sense of smell is many times better than a human’s, and studies suggest that they can sniff out explosive substances contained in landmines, as well as metal or plastic casing elements.
Bomb-sniffing dogs have been used around the world, such as in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Colombia, where aid groups say landmines remain a risk long after a conflict has ended, hampering reconstruction efforts.
Patron, whose name means “cartridge” in Ukrainian, referring to firearms, has also become a powerful patriotic symbol for kyiv, attracting a viral following on social media and inspiring a variety of artwork, cartoons and even knitted toys. Zelensky credited him on Sunday with having detected more than 200 explosives since the invasion of Russia on February 24.
US officials and military analysts have said there is evidence Russia has used antipersonnel mines and retrofitted anti-vehicle mines in residential and agricultural areas of Ukraine, threatening to undo broad international efforts to regulate such weapons in that region and beyond. as previously reported by media such as The Washington Post.
Since 1997, the type of landmines designed to kill people, known as antipersonnel landmines, have been banned by most countries. The Ottawa Convention that prohibited its use has been signed by more than 160 nations, although not by the main military powers, such as Russia, the United States and China.
Patron received his award during a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who paid a surprise visit to Ukraine on Sunday and toured the northern city of Irpin, which was badly damaged during the Kremlin’s attempt to seize kyiv earlier in the day. of the invasion.
Trudeau announced an additional $50 million in military aid during his visit, including funding for demining operations. He patted his pockets during the award ceremony, as if he were looking for a doggie treat, eliciting a bark from Patron.
“Even if the dog barked at me, we’re helping fund that,” he joked Sunday during the news conference, drawing laughter from attendees.