The laws governing the exclusion zone around Chernobyl strongly advise people to avoid feeding or touching the dogs, due to the risk of contamination. Not only is the dogs’ fur potentially loaded with radioactive particles, but their food and water is contaminated. The radioactive molecules they ingest may also linger in their bodies.
“We could find areas in their bones where radioisotopes had accumulated. We could survey the bones and we could see the radioactivity in them,” a Clean Futures Fund co-founder, Lucas Hixson, told Newsweek. The program funds medical treatment for locals in addition to running the spay and neuter program at the power plant and in the neighboring city.
“These dogs run through [contaminated areas] and it gets stuck on their coat and on the end of their noses and their feet.”
There are nearly 1,000 dogs in the area around the power plant. Only a few dozen cats live in the highly contaminated areas that the dogs frequent.