If you’re looking for to a new doggy pal with a backstory ripped straight from comic book lore, you might want to consider adopting a stray pup from a radioactive wasteland.
According to a report released last week by the Ukrainian state agency that manages the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, a dozen puppies have been rescued from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ), a 1,000 square mile area that has been virtually abandoned since the catastrophic meltdown of its reactor in 1986. After 45 days of quarantine in the nearby town of Slavutych, the young dogs will be sent to the United States to find homes.
These adorable furballs are descended from domestic dogs left behind when their owners fled the region in the wake of the disaster. After decades roaming the fallout as strays, and potentially interbreeding with wolves, they began to be treated in veterinary stations set up in 2017 by Clean Futures Fund (CFF), a nonprofit that focuses on regions impacted by industrial contamination and started a multi-year project to care for dogs in Chernobyl last year.
A 2017 short film entitled “The Puppies of Chernobyl,” created by filmmaker Drew Scanlon (of “Blinking White Guy” meme fame), further raised awareness about the plight of the animals. Like much of the wildlife in the CEZ, they have been exposed to contamination, but the puppies up for adoption will be treated for radioactive poisoning before they are sent to new homes.
I know what you’re thinking, because I’m thinking it too—where’s the waitlist for these fur babies? As of now, there is no official announcement about how to get in line for a fallout dog.
"The biggest consideration should be given to the fact that these dogs have not had any real socialization before coming to our rescue shelter," CFF co-founder Lucas Hixson told me in an email. "They don't understand the concept of a toy—the only things they like to play with are sticks and things to eat. We have developed a special training program for the puppies while they are in the adoption shelter, but they will likely still need a little extra love to reach their full potential."
If that sounds like something you're up for, you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. And even if you miss the chance to adopt from the first batch of puppies, which should be bound for the US in July, Hixson told Gizmodo that there “will likely be more [adoptable puppies] in the long run,” possibly hundreds.
Let’s hope that some 32 years after their ancestors were abandoned to the radioactive wilds, Chernobyl’s stray puppies find good homes again at last.
Update: This article has been updated with comments from CFF co-founder Lucas Hixson.
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