What really happened to Dogs after the Chernobyl Disaster

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Chernobyl dogs are one of the major kinds of victimized Chernobyl animals of radiation poisoning in Ukraine.  When the tragic event of radiation poisoning hit the Chernobyl power plant in 1986, nuclear radiation and waste went throughout 189 cities and communities. Residents were asked to leave their homes leaving behind their dogs and other pets. So these Chernobyl animals became the first responders to the radiation poisoning. That’s how Chernobyl dogs play a major role within the Chernobyl diaries in our history.

military officer with a dog 1986

Followed by the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, around 120,000 people have been evacuated. They were not allowed to take anything with them that could be possibly contaminated including their pets. Some of those Chernobyl dogs have run after their beloved owners to take them into evacuation buses, but it says that the soldiers chased them away.

Dog owners were also so desperate and repeatedly begged the government to save their beloved pets’ lives from radiation poisoning. But the responses kept negative. After the expulsion of Pripyat and the affected zone during the spring of 1986, troopers of the Soviet army were sent to shoot and kill the Chernobyl animals in Pripyat and also the exclusion zone. But it was hard to gather them all for a huge culling, so some survived the radiation poisoning.  These survivors, who led their lives in the exclusion zone, roamed to the Chernobyl power plant with time and bred new generations. Their off-springs persist to this day. But that didn’t cease the killing of Chernobyl dogs as many as possible by the officials. As the years update in the Chernobyl diaries the descendants of Chernobyl dogs have multiplied. But life is never easy to deal Chernobyl dogs. Not only that they are affected with the harsh winters of Ukraine, without proper shelters it’s really hard for them to survive.  Also they usually carry high levels of radiation in their fur. Also due to the radiation poisoning most of them show a very short lifespan. Only a very few live beyond the age of six.

Free roaming dog 2017

After 30 Years

After 30 years have passed, several hundreds of wandering dogs live around the power plant, along with several other animals. It is a common misleading fact that the Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant is absence of life. There are over 3,500 humans working around Chernobyl and over 250 stray dogs roaming around the grounds each day. Those people in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone usually share their lunches with the hundreds of strays that roam the area. Those workers in the plant have been advised not to contact the dogs physically, because radioactive particles can subsist on their fur. So, it is kind of difficult to save these animals from the risks at Chernobyl exclusion zone, especially when they are sick.

Several numbers of scientific researches has been carried out regarding the radiation poisoning of the Chernobyl animals. Surprisingly, the big animal community lived in the Belarus side of Chernobyl exclusion zone increased their numbers throughout the years after the tragedy. Wolves, Moose and boars are found in high numbers than before it was there. Scientific reports say that Chernobyl’s wolves are higher in numbers than that of within Yellowstone Park. It is suspected that wolves may have gotten some protection from radiation poisoning by traveling far outside the Chernobyl zone for long periods of time. Now these wolves have also become a threat to the Chernobyl dogs as they are attacking on the dogs.

A dog in Containment site area

What does Scientist say?

According to his findings a Danish scientist called Anders Pape Moller says that the Chernobyl animals and Fukushima s’ live 24 hours a day in these contaminated areas. So even if the dose that someone will get exposed within one hour is not extremely high, after several weeks or after a month, it will definitely be critical. These reactions could lead us to observe dramatic consequences in Chernobyl animals and their interactions.  Another professor, Michael Byrne from the University of Missouri says that the Chernobyl animals aren’t going to contaminate the outer world. But if there are any mutations that could be passed on to the next generations, it is something that needs attention.

Puppies of Chernobyl is a short documentary film by filmmaker Drew Scanlon which you can see on  YouTube , shows a number of lovely Chernobyl dogs from Chernobyl’s exclusion zone. Still a 1,000 square-mile area covering the nuclear plant is strictly prohibited to any public access. But the rules made by man mean nothing to the Chernobyl dogs. They usually lay, dig and roll around on the radiation affected soil and they drink from the contaminated puddles. It leads the dogs to ingest and get severally contaminated with the radioactive substances through their bodies and fur. Researchers still haven’t figure out the exact amounts of the contaminations in their bodies. Lucas Hixson, a radiation specialist says there may be no immediate health effects of radiation poisoning by petting the dogs, but he suggest that you must wash-up afterwards as a precaution. However, the Chernobyl dogs encounter another risk; rabies. They usually catch it by interacting with local wildlife. By vaccinating and reducing the population size of the dogs by spaying and neutering the officials are trying to control the spread of this fatal illness.

Free Roaming dog near a Chernobyl memorial statue

 However, by now they get the opportunity to live in homes with love and care, with the help of several nonprofit organizations dedicated to animal welfare. In 2017, welfare foundations started to offer medical care to Chernobyl dogs. In 2018, two independent teams brought the first set of dogs to the United States of America to give them a chance to live outside the Chernobyl home. Another organization called ‘Clean Futures’ is making some of Chernobyl dogs available for adoption followed by a firm veterinary consultation and decontamination procedure.

Some pages of the Chernobyl diaries are yet so unclear, masked with several political and economic illusions. But with the time the ultimate truth of this radiation poisoning and the reasons behind the consequences arose from it, will reveal them to the world.

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