In the midst of nuclear radiation and an inhospitable environment, a canine community has flourished despite the odds. Here's the story of the radioactive puppies that thrived in Chernobyl in 10 photos.
Since 1986, after disaster struck Chernobyl's nuclear plant, hundreds of dogs have been forced to live under incredibly harmful conditions. As sad as their circumstances are, however, their tale is not without hope. Dozens of people are dedicated to help them now, and their efforts have borne incredible fruits so far. Here's the story of the radioactive puppies that thrived in Chernobyl in 10 photos.
The Chernobyl Disaster
Almost 33 years ago, in what was then the Soviet Union, a safety test went terribly wrong at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near the town of Pripyat, Ukraine. After deliberately shutting down safety protocols for the test and activating an unorthodox checklist, Chernobyl operators encountered severe design flaws that created a chain reaction, resulting in a violent series of explosions at one of the reactors. The accident released plumes of radiation into the atmosphere, extremely damaging and contaminating the surrounding area. To this day, it remains the worst nuclear disaster in history.
The Chernobyl accident caused unbearable horrors in the neighborhood. You see, radiation can have terrifying effects on DNA, as it tends to produce often drastic or harmful mutations in exposed organisms—even years after exposure. Radiation poisoning is a serious thing. Cancer, congenital disease, mutations—even double-headed insects can be side effects of radiation poisoning. Scary stuff.
Also check this out: These Cute Creatures Could Go Extinct Because People Keep Them As Pets
Woe to all species
And it's not only humans that have suffered from the disaster. Even after all these years, several animals and plants are still paying a heavy toll for the effects of radiation. The health and wellbeing of many stray dogs are a notable issue.
Many such dogs have been hanging around the Chernobyl area for years, some surviving through heavy radiation, others suffering from only mild symptoms or minor health hazards. But even in the face of considerable environmental threats, these dogs have been reproducing non-stop, bringing even more living beings into a pernicious, radioactive world. Funds and non-profit organizations (such as the Dogs Of Chernobyl Clear Futures Fund) have been established, and programs have been undertaken in order to tackle this problem. As a result, many successful and heartwarming stories have sprung up from all over Chernobyl.
This is interesting too: The 19 Most Staggering Photos Of Our Universe That’ll Transport You To Other Worlds
The Dogs of Chernobyl
These cute little puppies have all come together and formed a thriving—though delicate—canine community ever since the town was abandoned in 1986. They have learned to survive in the woods around the exclusion zone, hunting for food and water—which is often contaminated. Most of today's Chernobyl dogs are descendants from those that were left behind following the nuclear incident.
It is said that long after their owners had left them, their howls could be heard in the night, even from far away, as if asking to be rescued. They howled for food. They howled for company. They kept trying to get aboard the buses leaving the area. But they were kicked, mistreated, hurt. People were forbidden to take pets out of Chernobyl for fear of further contamination. Squads were even sent in to kill them—yet they couldn't get them all. They ran, hid, escaped. Abandoned and alone, the little dogs were forced to survive through their own means. But dogs are resourceful.
A helping hand and hopeful future
Regardless of their ingenuity, though, there's only so much even the smartest organism can do in the face of such unwelcoming conditions. Fortunately, as the years went by, the animals in the area were no longer seen as a threat. Little by little, people felt the need to help them. Soldiers built them homes, tourists give them food. Still their situation is not easy, and that's what the programs are for. The idea is to help these wonderful canines to lead better lives beyond the unfair difficulties of their current environment.
One of the biggest challenges is to keep track of each and every dog and their condition, including their levels of radiation. For that reason, some Chernobyl dogs have been fitted with special collars to track them and measure their radioactivity.
The Clean Futures Fund has so far set up three veterinary clinics in the area, which treat emergencies and provide the canine community with vaccines against rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, among other common diseases. They also sterilize the dogs, in order to make the population manageable so that good health care can be provided for them.
Your voice matters:
Are you a concerned citizen or animal lover? Do you have an idea for an article? Click on this link for a chance to share your thoughts with the rest of the world.
Take a look at this other article:
10 Times When Science Got It All Horribly Wrong