Chernobyl Puppies Are On Their Way To The United States

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
Ukranian officials have captured several puppies descended from the 1986 Chernobyl melt-down, and a dozen are on their way to the United States for monitoring and adoption.

In 1986, a nuclear plant in Chernobyl, Russia, melted down and the residents in the surrounding area had to evacuate immediately. Tragically, because of the radiation exposure any pets outside experienced, they had to be left behind.

In the subsequent years, those pets left behind to their own devices have lived, died and multiplied and now there are hundreds of pets who live in both the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and the surrounding grounds.

Ukranian authorities have captured hundreds of the dogs, including many puppies, and 12 of those puppies are headed to the United States for adoption. Lucas Hixson is the co-founder of Clean Futures Fund, a United States-based non-profit that helps take care of Chernobyl clean-up workers, families in the area and the dogs. He said that the goal is to bring 200 dogs rescued and adopted in the next year and a half, and he’d then go from there with the hundreds still left.

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

The 200 dogs are in a 45-day quarantine in the Ukraine city of Slavutych, and when given a clean bill of health, will head to New York and hopefully find homes.

The puppies’ ancestors have tragic stories. They were not allowed to follow their owners to safety in 1986, because of the level of exposure and contamination, and hundreds of pets were sadly left behind in the evacuation. Authorities were ordered to put the ones who were left behind down, but many survived not only those orders, but radiation exposure effects and homelessness. Clean Futures estimates there are about 250 dogs living on the grounds of the old power plant and hundreds more roam around Chernobyl, security checkpoints, the woods and abandoned communities. Clean-up workers on the sites try to feed and tend to sick animals.

Which is where The Clean Futures Fund stepped in to help. They created a three-year plan that started with spaying and neutering as many animals in the Exclusion zone as they could. Last August, the worked with 325 dogs, vaccinating for rabies, testing for radiation, treating with antibiotics and microchipping the dogs. They recorded the health data for each dog and this June, will work with researchers from the University of South Carolina to look at radiation poisoning effects and genetic disruptions from the exposure.

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Jeff Beri is the founder of No Dog Left Behind and says that the dogs appear to be like any other adorable puppy, but potential owners need to know that these puppies have potential health risks. He said that the levels of radiation poisoning may differ and the effects combined with difficulty adapting to home life are things to consider.

As the puppies wait for clean bills of health, Hixson has said that they’ll come to the U.S. by July, and hopefully find the perfect people to give them the chance in life they deserve.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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