• Weird History

Hundreds Of Dogs And Puppies Live In Chernobyl - And You Can Adopt One

In 1986, tragedy struck the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine when the Unit 4 reactor failed, spewing nuclear waste and radiation throughout the nearby city of Pripyat. The Soviet Union evacuated 120,000 people and established what's now known as the Exclusion Zone, covering 1,000 square miles. Those forced out of their homes had to leave behind their pets. And like first responders to the disaster, these dogs and other animals were subject to radiation. 

Over 30 years later, hundreds of stray dogs live in and around the power plant, along with scores of other animals that call Chernobyl home. Though efforts have been made to cull the canine population, the dogs of Chernobyl still prove remarkably hardy. Now, they're getting a chance to live in loving homes, thanks to the efforts of multiple nonprofit organizations devoted to animal welfare. In 2017, organizations began offering the Chernobyl dogs medical attention. And in summer 2018, two groups brought the first batch of dogs to the United States to experience life outside the Exclusion Zone.

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  • The Dogs Have Survived Multiple Removal Attempts 

    Photo: Shutterstock

    Since 1986, authorities have made multiple attempts to remove the dogs from the area. Not long after the reactor exploded, the Soviet Union sent soldiers to kill the dogs and other animals, but in an area as vast as the Exclusion Zone, this proved impossible.

    The nuclear plant later hired another person to kill the dogs, because it had run out of funds to try other removal options, but the Clean Futures Fund reported that the worker refused. That's when the CFF stepped in to try saving the 1,000 or so dogs roaming the area. 

    Though a large part of the plan to help the dogs involves medical care, certain dogs have been released wearing special collars that will help researchers map out radiation levels in the Exclusion Zone. 

  • The Pups Will Still Need Help In Their New Homes

    Photo: Shutterstock

    Though the dogs being put up for adoption are physically healthy, they've more or less been living as wild animals with limited human contact. Lucas Hixson, co-founder of the Clean Futures Fund, one of the organizations working to help the dogs, explained to Motherboard that they're not typical domesticated animals and will need additional care after adoption:

    They don't understand the concept of a toy - the only things they like to play with are sticks and things to eat. We have developed a special training program for the puppies while they are in the adoption shelter, but they will likely still need a little extra love to reach their full potential.