Visitors to Chernobyl Site Advised Not to Pet the Dogs [Video]

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
When Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded in 1986, pets were left behind as residents fled. Dogs still roam the radioactive wasteland, but can’t be touched by humans.

In 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine left a previously thriving community a radioactive wasteland that had to be fled immediately. To this day, over 30 years later, places in the area are highly radioactive, and there are radioactive particles in new vegetation and growth. It’s becoming a popular tourist site, but visitors are asked to keep their hands to themselves – especially when it comes to petting animals.

Related: Island Full of Stray Dogs Is Puppy Paradise [Video]

Confused as to why there are domesticated pets in Chernobyl? Many of the town’s residents had no choice but to leave their pets as they were rushed to evacuation with little resource or time. The descendants of those pets are now the inhabitants of the still-virtual wasteland, and sadly, they are dangerous to be around.

As adorable and playful as they are, the puppies of the area most often have radioactive particles in their fur, according to a new documentary about the sad plight of the dogs called, ‘Puppies of Chernobyl.’ Filmmaker Drew Scanlon was told by officials to not pet the animals because of the danger they harbored in their fur.

Lucas Hixson is the co-founder of the non-profit Clean Futures Fund, and his group has been visiting the area for the last five years in an effort to help the dogs. He’d first discovered them when he visited as a radiation specialist, and they discovered radioactive accumulation in their bones. Hixson said that while it’s easy to restrict people from going in the danger zones, it’s near impossible to control the animals going wherever they please.

Hixson says that though the animals are not necessarily an immediate threat to a human’s health, any time anyone interacts with them, it’s important to wash their hands thoroughly to prevent any contamination. Clean Futures Fund is trying to help limit the growing problem with a spay and neuter clinic, and has partnered with the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Management Agency in the Ukraine.

Related: Land of the Strays is Doggie Heaven on Earth!

Spaying and neutering the animals will help ensure that those alive will not suffer due to lack of food or resource due to out of control population, and ensure that new generations of puppies (and other animals) who must be refused human interaction don’t grow.

The trailer for Scanlon’s documentary has a cheery musical background, but I have to say….my heart breaks thinking about all those sweet pups and their puppy dog eyes begging for a rub.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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