The Real Story Of The Dogs Of Chernobyl–And How You Can Help Them!

dog living in chernobyl

(Picture Credit: Blinoff/ Getty Images)

Did anyone else watch HBO’s Chernobyl? I did, and then I immediately had to find out all about the dogs.

The entire story was heart wrenching but I liked how they overcame what seemed like insurmountable odds.

The real Chernobyl is a city in Ukraine that is also the location of a nuclear power plant catastrophe. I wanted to learn the real story of the dogs of Chernobyl, so I did some digging and sniffed out the truth.

Here’s an explanation of the events during and after the Chernobyl disaster, the dogs who still live in the area, and what really happened to the people and pets who lived near a nuclear meltdown.

1986: The Accident, Evacuation, And Dogs Left Behind


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On April 26, 1986, there was an accident in the Unit 4 reactor at the nuclear power plant that devastated Chernobyl, Pripyat, and surrounding areas.

Over 120,000 people were evacuated, and family pets were left behind–not by choice, but for fear of contamination.

Waves of soldiers were sent in multiple times to euthanize the surviving animals, in an attempt to control the spread of radiation.

Over three decades later, there is a 1,000 square mile exclusion zone.  People are not allowed to live within it, but it is the home to hundreds of dogs. Natural selection has weeded out smaller breeds, and the pups residing there today are a pretty sturdy, friendly mix.

How Do The Dogs Of Chernobyl Live?

dog wandering streets of chernobyl

(Picture Credit: Konoplytska/ Getty Images)

At this point radiation poisoning is no longer the biggest threat to the dogs, but the cold Ukraine winters, rabies exposure, predators, and malnourishment are.

Around 250 dogs live at the actual power plant itself, while hundreds more roam the nearby cities. Their fur is considered radioactive and petting is not advised.

The power plant is no longer operational, but does require maintenance and upkeep. Over 3,000 workers are there every day, and many of them have gone to great lengths to care for the remaining dogs, especially during the harsh winters.

What Has Happened To The Chernobyl Dogs In Recent Years?

In the past few years, a lot more has been done to help the dogs who still live in the Chernobyl area.

In 2016 the Clean Futures Fund, a non-profit group, stepped in to offer assistance. Along with several partners, they now do an an intensive annual three-week project where they spay, neuter, and vaccinate the dogs living in the zone.

In 2018, some Chernobyl puppies were deemed safe for adoption! By May 3rd, 2018 many puppies with low levels of radiation were extracted and allowed to be adopted into homes, following a 30-day quarantine. Many of the descendants of Chernobyl are now thriving in new homes in the US and Canada.

On May 6, 2019, HBO released the five-part series, Chernobyl. The series has brought even more attention to the dogs of Chernobyl, and there has been a huge outpouring of help and support.

Fun fact: Did you know that, while it’s illegal to live in the exclusion zone, tourism is allowed? They’ve reported a 40 percent increase in tourism to the area since HBO’s Chernobyl aired.

Please help spread awareness so we can get these poor dogs the care they need and get the puppies into safe homes. Sharing their story on social media will help. Let your friends and family know about the Clean Futures Fund and make a tax-deductible donation if you can.

Click here to find out more about how you can help the dogs of Chernobyl!

What do you think of all the workers who are helping the dogs? Would you adopt a puppy from Chernobyl? Let us know in the comments below!

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