Having been born into and surviving a nuclear wasteland doesn’t sound like the ideal environment to find your next family dog, but SPCA International is hoping to find people that want to do exactly that.
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.
After the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, about 120,000 people were evacuated. They could not take anything with them for fear of contamination, and that included pets. Some dogs chased after their owners to follow them onto evacuation buses, but soldiers pushed them away.