Chernobyl Puppies Are Getting a Chance at Life in America

Chernobyl is on everyone’s minds these days. In 1986, the power-regulating system at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Planet was intentionally disabled following an issue with a failed reactor, raining poisonous radioactive steam and ash on the nearby city of Pripyat, Ukraine. Now, the catastrophic nuclear accident is the subject of the new HBO series of the same name. The show is raising new awareness for the event, which continues to plague those affected with cancer and birth defects, and has turned Pripyat into a ghost town. But it’s not entirely free of inhabitants. In fact, the Chernobyl exclusion zone is populated with many stray dogs. But on a brighter note, some of those dogs will soon get new lives in North America thanks to a program called CFF, or the Clear Futures Fund.

According to BuzzFeed News, CFF was established to help the survivors of the Chernobyl disaster raise funds for surgeries and cancer treatments, but has grown to also include care for the area dogs. This includes spaying the fertile animals and releasing them to prevent unnecessary pregnancies, and also treating the young puppies and then training them for adoption. Natalia Melnichuk, a local who was evacuated from the Chernobyl exclusion zone as a child, now helps with these adoptions, dancing with the puppies to their favorite song “Despacito” and readying them for their new potential homes.

Most dogs in Chernobyl are the descendants of the animals left behind in the fallout of the nuclear disaster. The ones with severe defects die young, but others have thrived, using the abandoned area as their massive playground. But, contrary to popular belief, the dogs are not radioactive. Some may have radiation on their fur from sitting in contaminated areas, but rarely is a dog brought in that is fully covered in the poison. In fact, if they do have radioactive fur, it’s as easy as washing them with soap or shaving the infected area to make them as good as new.

Thanks to CFF and the international SPCA, the animals are being healed and cleared for adoption, with many making their way stateside, according to BuzzFeed. Two months after being taken in, one set of 14 puppies made their way to JFK International Airport in New York to go on to their forever homes. Their origins in Chernobyl have made these puppies quite famous. Some folks even adopt more than one Chernobyl dog at a time, as evidenced by this precious reunion of dogs from the same litter in Ohio.

BuzzFeed notes that CFF also uses their funds on sick children, which means every donation goes to something well-meaning, even if it doesn’t save a puppy’s life.

Feature Image: Klearchos Kapoutsis/ Wiki Commons

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