A Ukrainian bomb-sniffing dog and his owner were awarded a service medal by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday during a ceremony in Kyiv alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Jack Russell terrier, named Patron, has been credited with sniffing out more than 200 explosive devices since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Patron has become a symbol of Ukrainian patriotism, and his mine-hunting has been chronicled by media worldwide since the start of the war. Patron struggled to maintain his composure during the ceremony and barked at the Canadian prime minister as he was awarded his medal.
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"In the presence of Mr. Prime Minister [Trudeau], I awarded our sappers today. In particular, a small but very famous sapper — Patron. A dog who helps clean our land from the traces of the occupiers. And who also helps teach children mine safety," Zelensky said in his nightly address Sunday.
Patron barked and wagged his tail as the Ukrainian president awarded his owner, Maj. Myhailo Iliev, the medal. Trudeau appeared to search his pockets for a dog treat as Patron barked in his direction during the ceremony.
Patron the dog has received an official award alongside his colleagues from Ukraine President Zelenskyy, in the presence of Canada PM @JustinTrudeau. What an honour! pic.twitter.com/uig8VFi5z4— Stratcom Centre UA (@StratcomCentre) May 9, 2022
“Even if the dog barked at me, we’re helping fund that,” Trudeau said during the ceremony, referencing the $50 million in military aid from Canada, including money for demining operations, that he announced during his visit.
His name is Patron. He helps de-mining Ukraine. He is a legend here. #dogsofukraine #StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/8HxZIqQEdM— olexander scherba🇺🇦 (@olex_scherba) May 1, 2022
Zelensky said on Sunday that Russian forces have left behind thousands of mines, tripwire mines, and undetonated shells since their Feb. 24 invasion and that clearing them as well as teaching the public how to recognize landmines is essential.
"Due to the Russian invaders, this is now one of the most urgent tasks — to teach children to recognize and avoid explosive objects. This is the 'liberation' from a safe life for Ukrainian children that Russia has brought to Ukraine," Zelensky said.
Landmines left behind by Russian troops have delayed humanitarian aid convoys and have killed civilians in Ukraine.
In Bucha alone, where hundreds of civilians were found dead after Russian troops withdrew from the town, thousands of mines and unexploded ordnances have been cleared by Ukrainian authorities.
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Russian forces have reportedly deployed an advanced type of landmine in Ukraine that can detonate as a person is walking up to it, sending shrapnel up to 50 feet away, making clearing them a challenge.
The latest casualty numbers by the United Nations put the number of civilians killed in Ukraine since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion at 3,309, with at least 3,493 injured.