Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy decorates latest war hero — mine-clearing pooch Patron

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy decorates latest war hero -- mine-clearing pooch Patron

Military heroes can come in all shapes, sizes and leg quantities. Some may be the tough-talking, machine gun-wielding figures that John Wayne played in numerous Hollywood movies. But others have four legs and like nothing more than a belly rub and a nice cheese snack after a hard day on the job.

On Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy presented Ukraine’s Medal for Military Service to Patron — a Jack Russell terrier credited with detecting more than 200 explosives since Russia’s invasion on February 24.

Patron — Ukrainian for “cartridge” — wagged his tail and barked during an award ceremony witnessed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the latest world leader to visit the besieged country.

“Today, I want to award those Ukrainian heroes who are already clearing our land of mines,” President Zelenskyy said, according to an account in the Daily Mail newspaper.

Patron does more than merely help his human partners neutralize deadly explosives on the battlefield. He also teaches Ukrainian children about the safety rules in areas where there are mine threats, Mr. Zelenskyy noted during the ceremony.

Ukraine’s State Emergency Services is responsible for clearing more than 50,000 mines and other explosive materials that Russian forces have left in the country since the invasion. They called Patron the “soul and mascot” of the group.

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Authorities in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv this week warned people not to approach what they said were landmines being dropped on the city. Security forces later discovered a number of small devices identified as plastic PTM-1M mines, widely used by Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

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