On February 24, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
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Do not look away from the war


Patron is the Ukrainian Jack Russell terrier. He was initially trained to participate in dog exhibitions but showed the abilities of a sniffing dog early on. After Russia’s full-scale invasion, Patron has been really helpful in demining – and became a people’s favorite along the way.

How did Patron become a bomb-sniffing dog

The owner of Patron is the Head of the pyrotechnic unit of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in the Chernihiv region, Mykhailo Illov. In 2020, he gave the puppy to his son. The initial plan was to train Jack Russell terrier to participate in dog exhibitions. However, at six months, Patron showed the abilities of a sniffing dog.

Photo: State Emergency Service of Ukraine

Mykhailo started taking the dog to work and gradually taught him to recognize explosives by their smell. With the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Patron has been actively helping to demine territories and now serves with his owner in the State Emergency Service unit.

Due to its small weight, about four kilograms, the dog is indispensable in the search for anti-personnel mines that detonate at a weight of five kilograms or more. As of September 2022, Patron has helped to find more than 300 enemy explosive devices.

Patron dog got a medal and lots of praises

On May 9, 2022, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, awarded the Patron with the Medal “For Dedicated Service”, and its owner, Mykhailo Illov, with the Order For Courage of 3rd degree.

Patron receives the Medal “For Dedicated Service” from the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. May 9, 2022.
Photo: Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Instagram

The same month, the Ukrainian Jack Russell Terrier won the “Palm Dog” award at the Cannes Film Festival in France. And in November 2022, Patron received the “Dog of Good Will” title from UNICEF in Ukraine.

In addition, Patron got a lot of attention – and some scratches – from top politicians and celebrities. Among them are Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and the British actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom.

Patron with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. September 8, 2022.
Photo: Reuters
Patron with the British actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom. March 27, 2023.
Photo: UNICEF Ukraine / Twitter

Mascot of the demining

Within the first months of the full-scale war, Patron became well-known both in Ukraine and abroad. In particular, the hero dog has an Instagram account with 411 thousand followers.

In May 2022, the dog Patron became the face of the Ministry of Internal Affairs mobile application, “Demining of Ukraine”. This app allows citizens to quickly inform law enforcement agencies about discovered explosive objects. Also, it contains a map of areas where unexploded shells and mines may be.

Today, the image of Patron can also be seen on candies, soft toys, pillows, Christmas decorations, and even on postage stamps.

Photo: Ihor Smilianskyi / Facebook

The bomb-sniffing dog also made it to TV screens. On January 7, 2023, the animated series “Patron The Dog” premiered with the support of USAID and in partnership with UNICEF. In the animated series, the main character tells children about the rules of mine safety.

However, even now Patron is not just a celebrity dog – he is one of the main four-legged symbols of Ukrainian resistance amidst the full-scale Russia’s war. And a great reminder that even the smallest among us can make a big difference.

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