Scientists and radiation experts are using the descendants of family pets left behind after the 1986 nuclear disaster of Chernobyl to carry out research in the area. It is estimated more than 900 stray dogs are living in and around the Chernobyl nuclear plant and the exclusion zone. More than 120,000 people were told to evacuate after the explosion of the nuclear power plant as radioactive dust covered the entire area – many were forced to abandon their family pets.
It was an area of Ukraine turned into a wasteland where no humans could live for more than 30 years – however no one said anything about dogs. The dogs now roam where 3,500 workers leave scraps of food. Although no one lives in the 18.5 mile radius, people commute to work everyday to work at the nuclear plant. Many of the employees have already bonded with stray dogs – feeding them and allowing them inside of the plant during the harsh winter.
Animal welfare organization Four Paws has teamed up with the American NGO Clean Futures Fund (CFF) to carry out spay, neuter and vaccination clinics in an initiative called The Dogs of Chernobyl. The non profit has been providing medical treatment to the strays. Local dog catcher, Aleksander Klimov will capture the dogs – spay, neuter and vaccinate them and then release the tagged dogs back into the wild. No one wants to kill them – after all they have a right to live after surviving one of the worst nuclear disasters of the 20th century. Using a Geiger counter, radiation levels still show levels 20 times higher than normal on some of the paws of the dogs veterinarian students and volunteers find while treating and assessing the pups.
According to the VetTimes, there are no health risks to volunteers and all precautions have been taken. According to CFF co-founder, Lucas Hisxon:
“We are following strict health and safety protocols to ensure the safety of our team. As part of this, it is mandatory to wear appropriate clothing to ensure the team is protected from the radiation levels. All strays will be thoroughly washed and scrubbed before every medical treatment to reduce the risk of contamination.”
According to Four Paws International, the project finally addresses the humane and compassionate response needed:
“This project is important to us because the dogs of Chernobyl are very special, to have survived this long in such a harsh environment. They deserve to be taken care off and to have a better future.”
If you want to donate for the forgotten dogs of Chernobyl, please follow this link: https://action.four-paws.org.uk/donate/chernobyl
Follow the National Pet Rescue on Facebook.
(Photos via screenshots Clean Futures Fund and Four Paws International)
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