Meet Patron dog, The Mine-sniffing Hero, From Ukraine

A Jack Russell terrier has become the canine face of hope in war-torn Ukraine. Trained to detect even the faintest traces of unexploded ordnance, Patron dog, is the ultimate mine-sniffing super hero.  Patron’s keen sense of smell has thwarted threats before they can cause harm.

Patron’s incredible ability to detect and neutralize explosives is keeping the children safe. Aside from mine sniffing, Patron is also trained in search and rescue, and tracking.

Patron dog medal
Patron dog, the mine-sniffing canine from Ukraine, receives a medal from the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

Patron was adopted by Mykhailo Iliev, who works with Ukraine State Emergency Service (SES), and his wife Iryna. Patron became a social media celebrity when a video of him working in his bulletproof vest (personalized with his name in Cyrillic letters), went viral.  

Patron visits schools in mine-affected areas of Ukraine to raise awareness in kids about the risks of landmines and how to stay safe. His team educates students on how to identify and report explosive devices. 

Patron dog school
Through the fifteen minute school sessions ― (Do not approach – Do not touch – Call 101!) Patron’s team educates kids not to play with any suspicious objects they may come across. 

These educational programs help children learn about the dangers of landmines and how to protect themselves from it. It not only keeps them safe in the short-term, but also helps to reduce the risk of accidents in the future.

Patron and his handlers also work to clear minefields in the area and make it safe for the local community. Their work has a direct impact on the lives of children by giving them access to safe spaces to play and learn.

See also: How dogs are leading the war against terror

Patron dog cartoon
Celebrated in cartoons and mainstream media, Patron’s heroics have crossed borders. (Cartoon courtesy: Oleksiy Kustovsky)

Keeping Ukraine Safe: Patron dog helps professionals to demine areas 

Ukraine emergency services, SES, reports that a significant area of the nation is infested with landmines. Explosives are placed in many places, like forests, roads, hospitals, homes, and playgrounds. To keep people safe, rescuers teach people how to be safe around mines and shells. They are aided by Patron, who sniffs for bombs and mines, as they do their job.

Patron has helped find over 300 explosive objects by sniffing and alerting his team. On Children’s day last year, Patron became the first dog in history to receive the title of Goodwill Dog from UNICEF. The ‘Learning Together’ campaign released an augmented reality (AR) development – an Instagram mask with Patron the Dog. Virtual Patron supports students who study from their homes, and provides them with advice and tips on their homework every day.

Ukraine dog Patron award
Patron was awarded the “Four-legged Defender” award by the Ukrainian Association of Dog Breeders of Ukraine. 

A cartoon called “Patron Dog” was released on YouTube on January, 2023 with English and Polish subtitles.

A Ukrainian hero, Patron’s role in raising awareness about the landmines not only keeps children safe, but also helps to build a safer future for the community. His social media channels help raise funds for charity work like supporting hospital in Kyiv. 

The training process for a bomb-sniffing dog is rigorous and intense. It takes several months for a dog to be ready for field work. The training includes learning to detect a wide range of explosives, including TNT, C-4, and even homemade bombs. The dogs help secure public events, check vehicles at border crossings and also conduct sweeps of buildings, and open spaces.

The dogs get paired with a handler who works with them on a daily basis taking care of the dog’s care, training, and deployment. The handler and dog work as a team, with the latter using its sense of smell to locate explosives and the handler providing guidance and direction.

Patron is just a dog who loves cheese and is amazingly good at his job. Who knows how many lives were saved because they missed the mines that Patron detected and cleared…an absolute legend! May the dreaded war end soon and good boys like Patron stay safe from harm’s way, for they care not for politics, prizes or propaganda. 

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