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Tue May 14, 2019, 07:17 PM

Meet the dogs of Chernobyl - the abandoned pets that formed their own canine community

I read this story some time ago. It was heart-breaking, but for those watching the HBO documentary, I think strangely hopeful too.

Hundreds of stray dogs have learned to survive in the woods around the exclusion zone – mainly descendants of those left behind after the nuclear disaster, when residents were banned from taking their beloved pets to safety


by Julie McDowall



https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/feb/05/dogs-chernobyl-abandoned-pets-stray-exclusion-zone

We are in the woods behind the Chernobyl plant when the dog runs at us. It is thin, with brindle fur and yellow eyes. Igor, our guide, makes a lunge and clamps his hands over its snout. They wrestle in the snow and icy water shakes from the trees. The dog’s eyes flash as Igor grabs a stick and throws it into the trees. Distracted, the animal chases it and our little group is free to move. But the dog reappears and drops the stick at Igor’s foot. He throws it again. The dog brings it back. I almost laugh with relief.

Igor, who, it turns out, is very familiar with the dog, throws a few snowballs, which it tries to catch and chew. “This is Tarzan,” says Igor. “He’s a stray who lives in the exclusion zone. His mum was killed by a wolf, so the guides look out for him, chuck a few sticks, play a few games. He’s only a baby, really …”
Tarzan isn’t alone. There are approximately 300 stray dogs in the 2,600km² zone. They live among the moose and lynx, the hares and wolves that have also found a home here. But while the Mongolian horses and Belarusian bears were recently introduced to the area, and other animals have come in as opportunists, the dogs are native.

After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, Pripyat and the surrounding villages were abandoned, and residents were not allowed to take their pets to safety. Chernobyl Prayer, a devastating oral history of the period, tells of “dogs howling, trying to get on the buses. Mongrels, alsatians. The soldiers were pushing them out again, kicking them. They ran after the buses for ages.” Heartbroken families pinned notes to their doors: “Don’t kill our Zhulka. She’s a good dog.” There was no mercy. Squads were sent in to shoot the animals. But some survived and it is mainly their descendants that populate the zone.The dogs often carry increased levels of radiation in their fur and have a shortened life expectancy

Life is not easy for the Chernobyl strays. Not only must they endure harsh Ukrainian winters with no proper shelter, but they often carry increased levels of radiation in their fur and have a shortened life expectancy. Few live beyond the age of six.

But it’s not all bad news. The dogs that live near the zone’s checkpoints have little huts made for them by the guards, and some are wise enough to congregate near the local cafe, having learned that a human presence equals food. These canine gangs act as unofficial Chernobyl mascots, there to greet visitors who stop at Cafe Desyatka for some borscht.


Much more at the link above.

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Reply Meet the dogs of Chernobyl - the abandoned pets that formed their own canine community (Original post)
hlthe2b May 2019 OP
hlthe2b May 2019 #1
dixiegrrrrl May 2019 #4
hlthe2b May 2019 #5
sinkingfeeling May 2019 #2
hlthe2b May 2019 #3
UTUSN May 2019 #6
smirkymonkey May 2019 #7

Response to hlthe2b (Original post)

Tue May 14, 2019, 07:22 PM

1. There are efforts underway to relocate many whose radiation levels are acceptable to the US

https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2018-05-chernobyls-stray-dogs-are-bound-for-new-homes-in-the-us

The legacy of the Chernobyl dogs is heartbreaking. When some 120,000 people were evacuated in the wake of the nuclear disaster, they were forced to leave their pets behind. Chernobyl Prayer, a wrenching oral history of the time, tells of “dogs howling, trying to get on the buses. Mongrels, alsatians. The soldiers were pushing them out again, kicking them. They ran after the buses for ages.”

Heartbroken families pinned notes to their doors: “Don’t kill our Zhulka. She’s a good dog.” There was no mercy. The army sent in extermination squads to shoot the animals. But those who survived the soldiers and the radiation rebuilt their communities as packs and now their ancestors populate the zone.

The Clean Futures fund says that the some 250 dogs living around the destroyed nuclear power plant were likely driven out of the surrounding forests by the burgeoning population of wolves, as well as by lack of food.

Another 225 does roam Chernobyl City itself, and yet others live and scrounge at security checkpoints and throughout the abandoned communities of the Exclusions Zone. Most of the dogs, says the fund, are under the age of 4 or 5, and cleanup workers often look after them, feeding the and tending to them when they are ill.

At the beginning of June, the Clean Future Fund, with partners veterinarians from the University of South Carolina will look the dogs over for signed of radiation poisoning and genetic damage before they depart for greener shores. The team will also issue vaccinations against rabies, parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis. They are also neutering the dogs.

There’s no word yet on exactly where the dogs will be settled when they arrive in the United States, or whether potential owners will be told that their new pets immigrated from the world’s most notorious disaster site. But the adoption program, from the canine point of view, is sure to receive glowing reviews.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #1)

Tue May 14, 2019, 08:01 PM

4. I see someone snuck a radiation joke in there.

But the adoption program, from the canine point of view, is sure to receive glowing reviews.

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #4)

Tue May 14, 2019, 08:04 PM

5. Hah!

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Response to hlthe2b (Original post)

Tue May 14, 2019, 07:40 PM

2. I toured Chernobyl a year ago. We took dog biscuits and a couple with us

had a sack of dog food for the dogs. They seemed to recognize the tour minivans and met us at each stop. There are people who work in the zone and provide the dogs with food.

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Response to sinkingfeeling (Reply #2)

Tue May 14, 2019, 07:47 PM

3. In the HBO documentary, they showed a German Shepherd chasing the buses to try to get on with

his owner--which really happened for many pets. I found it heart-breaking. I'm pleased to see that there are many pups with low enough radiation levels that they can be brought to the US and elsewhere for adoption.

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Response to hlthe2b (Original post)

Tue May 14, 2019, 08:29 PM

6. Zeus, they're gorgeous!

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Response to hlthe2b (Original post)

Tue May 14, 2019, 09:03 PM

7. Poor babies! I feel so bad for them.

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