The State Emergency Service of Ukraine (DSNS) is crucial in protecting the country’s civilian population from Russian attacks. It is not just fellow citizens who work in the DSNS, though. Well-trained, kind-hearted animals do more than their fair share in dealing with any number of hazards.
As Ukraine celebrates Emergency Service Worker Day on Sept. 17, NV is sharing the stories of several brave dogs, who help search-and-rescue operations, clear landmines, and sniff out turncoats and enemy agents.
A two-year-old Jack Russel Terrier, Patron works with explosive experts in Chernihiv Oblast. Finding unexploded ordnance is his specialty, and he’s been doing his job since he was just six months old. He has become a veritable mascot of his minesweeping squad.
“Patron works as one of our sappers around the clock,” DSNS Civil Defense Chief and Patron’s owner, Mykhailo Illiov, told Ukrainian TV.
“He’s with us on every call, engaged with clearing explosives. He is instrumental in civilian safety training. Kids adore him, everyone wants to snap a photo. He has a knack for sniffing out explosives, and is getting better at it every day. We’re making a well-rounded professional out of him”
Patron got himself an Instagram account by March 20, and on May 8 President Volodymyr Zelenskyy presented the good boy with the Order of Courage. Being the rascal that he is, Patron used to occasion to bark at Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, who attended the ceremony.
Master is a seven-year-old Belgian Shepard, also serving as a sapper, in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. He’s been at it for three years now. Landmines, bombs, artillery shells – Master can sniff it all out. DSNS personnel credit the dog with detecting over 100 explosive objects.
“His full name is Master Davir Walmart Hoff – the name of the kennel we got him from,” Master’s handler Dmytro Panfilovskyi said.
“He’s proficient in detecting gunpowder, plastic explosives, and TNT. Master’s training is one big game – every find is rewarded with a toy or a treat.”
Master will work with DSNS for two more years, before enjoying his well-earned retirement.
Leia’s been with the K9 division of Ukraine’s National Guard for several years now, specializing in search-and-rescue. When the division was being evacuated at the very beginning of the war, Leia got scared and hid somewhere, separated from the other units. Eventually she picked up the trail of her handler Bohdan and reunited with the brigade several hundred kilometers away.
“Leia has a very keen, well-honed sense of smell,” Bohdan said.
“Starved and exhausted, she still managed to find me at our position. You can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to see her alive!”
Leia continues to serve with the National Guard, defending the country from the Russian invasion.
Kate the Belgian Shepard watched over the Kyiv subway. Together with her handler, deputy head of Kyiv Police K9 Center, Vitaliy Lytvyn, Kate sniffs out weapons and explosives across the capital and entertains people at Kyiv railway station.
“We do regular sweeps for explosives in the city subway,” said Lytvyn.
“We inspect suspicious items and passenger bags. Once off-duty, we entertain kids and people coming through Kyiv. It’s a kind of therapy, lightening the mood. Children fleeing combat zones can regain a sense of normality, if only for a moment.”
Archie the black Labrador Retriever serves in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, scouring potentially hazardous areas for explosives.
“Archie is an expert on weapons and explosives,” said Veronika Leshchenko, Archie’s handler.
“He inspects cars at checkpoints and arriving trains and luggage at the train station. We also respond to calls about suspicious packages. The workload has doubled since the invasion.”
Veronika and Archie are eager to see Ukrainian lands to be liberated, as there will be plenty of work for them there.