Decades after that nuclear explosion in the Ukraine, the fallout remains evident. Abandoned dogs roam the disaster zone around the power plant.
In 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear reactor in Ukraine exploded sending radioactive material spewing into the sky. Authorities evacuated everyone with 19 miles but people were forced to leave their pets behind.
“A lot of them come up close, they don’t trust you. It’s like they understand what’s going on,” said head of animal control Manny Macie.
For the past three years, the U.S. non-profit group, “Clean Futures Fund” has traveled to Ukraine to track down the dogs and give them medical help.
The group is on a rescue mission to save the abandoned dogs of Chernobyl.
“There’s nearly 1,000 stray dogs in the zone when we started this program,” said Lucas Hixson from the Clean Futures Fund.
Lead veterinary technician Angela Elia says she’s not worried about radioactivity.
“You turn off the lights they’re not going to glow in the dark,” she said about the dogs. “ These dogs may literally have a piece of grass with high radiation on them.”
Vets vaccinate, spay or neuter the animals and give them a good wash before releasing them back into the while, while young pups get a new leash on life.
Ohio native Sean Grossarth adopted Natalka last year through the “Dogs of Chernobyl” program.
“She loves everyone and doesn’t understand why people don’t wanna stop and pet her all the time,” Grossarth said.
The transition from Chernobyl to Columbus has been rough at times but Natalka has settled into her new life with her American family.
“It’s by far one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had,” said Grossarth.
Since the adoption program began last year, 40 puppies have been adopted by American and Canadian families.
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Dogs of Chernobyl GoFundMe