Meet the dogs of Chernobyl

In 1986, a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located near the Ukrainian town of Pripyat, lost its shit. Flaws in the reactor's design caused a steam explosion, resulting in a fire that spewed plumes of radioactive material into the atmosphere. The Soviet government mobilized its armed forces to evacuate  the area surrounding the accident site where the risk to human life was the greatest. Families were forced on to buses and military transports with little more than the clothes on their backs. Without exception, the evacuees were forced to leave the pets behind. There was simply no time, or space, to include them in the rescue. Later the same year, Soviet troops were sent into the 30-mile wide Chernobyl exclusion zone to cull what animals they could find left still alive. Live stock, wildlife and deserted family pets were eliminated.

But they didn't get them all.

Largely free of people for over three decades, the exclusion zone has become something of a haven to a thriving (albeit, irradiated, in some cases) miscellany of wild animals. Most heartening of all, the dogs who survived the '86 cull, bred, increased their numbers exponentially and survived. As work began on a new, permanent include to house the still radioactive ruins of Chernobyl's number four reactor, many of the descendants of the abandoned, domesticated pooches began showing up at the construction site, looking for scraps and refuge from the wolves and other predators that pray on them in the wild. The workers at the Chernobyl site began making a habit to save scraps from their meals for the dogs. The dogs in turn, began to trust the men and women working in the exclusion zone. While the doggos were now in a safer environment than the woods could afford them, the dogs were still endangered. Overrun by the dogs, the construction company responsible for work in the area directed its employees to round up and kill the dogs. The employees, to their credit, refused.

Fortunately, the Clean Futures Fund has a better idea for managing the dogs that doesn't involve murder.

The CFF is accepting donations to help manage the dogs of Chernobyl. The money collected goes to dog food, rabies vaccinations, and to pay veterinarians to come to the area so that the pooches can be spayed and neutered. For more information on the CFF's work to provide better lives for these animals, just follow this link.

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