Patron the Great
After years of bloody conflict, as much as 40% of Ukraine is now contaminated with mines, which can be found in rivers, forests and fields, on the roadsides, in hospitals, in residential buildings and playgrounds, and even in children’s toys. Ukraine may be the most mined country in the world, surpassing even Syria and Afghanistan, according to the Mines Advisory Group. But no mine on earth can out-smart the hunting instincts of a Jack Russell Terrier!
This composition celebrates “Patron,” the much-loved mascot of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SES). Working together with sappers and pyrotechnics, the diminutive Patron has sniffed out hundreds of explosive objects, and was named “Goodwill Dog” by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine. In addition to his mine detection work, he and his owner, Mykhailo Iliev, visit communities to teach children mine safety. Science writer Ed Yong is absolutely right: we underestimate animals to our detriment.
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