Dogs walking outside the Chernobyl power plant

Dogs of Chernobyl 2017 Campaign

November 9, 2017

All of us at Clean Futures Fund and the Dogs of Chernobyl program would like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful supporters and followers who have helped us reach our goals in 2017. We could not have accomplished the first ever spay/neuter and vaccination clinic at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and Exclusion Zone without your generosity and of course, our amazing team of veterinarians and volunteers. We were able to spay, neuter and vaccinate over 350 stray dogs and cats during the inaugural August 2017 Dogs of Chernobyl program!  

We are also so grateful for all of our partner organizations that played an integral role in our work for the 2017 Dogs of Chernobyl Program and would like to thank each and every one of them for their help in so many ways. Two of our biggest partners this past year were Dogs Trust Worldwide and SPCA International. A special thank you to Dogs Trust’s expert dog-catcher Brian Faulkner who provided much needed feedback and support in that area; and to SPCA International’s Executive Director Meredith Ayan and Program Manager Lori Kalef who visited our operations in Chernobyl and pitched in for a couple days at the clinic.

We knew this program would be challenging from the very beginning for many reasons aside from the obvious: abandoned landscape, overgrown forests, safety hazards and environmental contamination. Some of these areas are like jungles, with mazes of buildings and overgrowth of trees and shrubs. Other areas are wide open and bordered by woods, giving the dogs free reign to run and hide.

However, one might say the logistics beforehand were even more taxing!

As you can imagine, setting up the first ever animal related project at the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster has many limitations and restrictions. Acquiring the necessary permissions, funding, finding the right partners, veterinarians, volunteers and overcoming language barriers were just a few obstacles we successfully overcame. Because of the difficulties with receiving goods into Ukraine from elsewhere in the world, we had to procure veterinary supplies and equipment locally and then figure out a way to get them into the Exclusion Zone. In Chernobyl, you simply can’t get in a vehicle and go where you need to go, but with great perseverance, we were able to figure out ways to do so because we were committed to seeing the program through.

After the initial capturing of the dogs, they were transported back to the make shift hospital we set up in an abandoned building and brought into the reception area. Since we were working in a contaminated environment, every animal was screened for external radioactive contamination before they were admitted into the clinic. Animals that had surficial contamination over safety levels were washed (decontaminated) until they met all safety criteria.

As the animals were inspected, each dog was given a unique identification number and physical data like weight and sex were collected and updated on their paperwork. The animals were then given antibiotics for precautionary measures and for any existing medical conditions, and then brought to surgery. During their recovery, a microchip was implanted beneath their skin for identification purposes, and they were given a combination rabies and complex vaccine, and other medications when deemed necessary.

Before the animals woke up from the anesthetic, they were placed on the whole-body counter and a measurement was taken of the internalized radioactive materials that have been collected as a result of living in a contaminated environment. They were then transported to a secondary recovery room to be monitored until they were ready to be brought back to the area they were caught.

There were also numerous injuries and diseases that we were presented with. Many puppies and dogs were greatly affected by mange and were given doses of Ivermectin to treat and manage this awful condition. When we followed up with these animals in November 2017, we were so happy and amazed to see how fast they recovered after our treatments!

We had a great group of veterinarians and volunteers that supported us throughout the program. Our surgical team faced uncommon challenges related to the hostile environment that we are not privy to in North America. Because we are primarily working with stray animals, there was no way of knowing their medical history or even when the last time they had a meal. Thanks to the incredible experience and ability to operate under pressure by our veterinarians.

Our team was so dedicated to the goal of treating as many animals as possible that one of our incredible group of volunteers gave their own time and energy during one of their weekends off to hold a free spay/neuter clinic for stray cats in Slavutych, the worker city outside Chernobyl where our team stayed during the program. The response from the community was so great that by the afternoon we had to turn people away because we were running out of supplies and time!  We were so grateful for the support of the community in all our operations and plan to continue to help the animals in the town of Slavutych with our first weeklong spay/neuter/vaccinate campaign beginning in 2018.

It is our goal to have the majority of the animals sterilized by 2020 and then transition those goals into an ongoing monitoring and care program for the remaining animal population. If we can raise enough funds with YOUR help, we would also like to hire local veterinarians to provide routine medical care and establish feeding stations as well as better shelter from the elements.

Slavutych and Chernobyl will always hold special places in our hearts, not just because of the history, but also because of the animals and people that still live there and the lives they lead and endure. We couldn’t be more passionate about our work are so grateful to you for believing in us and our cause for the Dogs of Chernobyl. We remain committed to providing the best care possible for the animals. We are honored for this opportunity to make such a meaningful difference in the lives of the workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the stray cats and dogs that live in the area.

With enormous gratitude, we would like to recognize and thank the nearly 40 members of our team that were on-site with us in Ukraine and helped us care for the stray cats and dogs of Chernobyl in August 2017.

Erik Kambarian
Clean Futures Fund Co-Founder, USA
Lucas Hixson
Clean Futures Fund Co-Founder, USA
Dr. Terry Paik
Veterinarian, USA
Dr. Felipe Dias
Dr. Anna Sovtus
Veterinarian, Ukraine
Dr. Oleksandr Senchuk
Veterinarian, Ukraine
Dr. Eva Tendl
Dr. Timothy Mousseau
Scientific Research Coordinator , USA
Dr. Pavel Burkazkey
Dog Catching Veterinarian, Ukraine
Aleksander Klimov
Dog Catching, Ukraine
Marie Chenery
Hospital Operations, USA
Dmitry Appolonov
Operations, Ukraine
Jake Hecla
Radiation Safety Technician, USA
John Erhard
Safety Officer, USA
Meredith Ayan
SPCAI International, USA
Lori Kalef
SPCAI International, Canada
Brian Faulkner
Dogs Trust Worldwide, UK
Alyssa Brahler
Volunteer, USA
Anastasia Grabchuk
Volunteer, Ukraine
Andrey Khrapatiy
Driver, Ukraine
Elena Grabchuk
Volunteer, Ukraine
Eva Mempor

Jacqueline Scholz
Volunteer, UK
Kerry Anne O’Connor
Volunteer, Japan
Lucy Reynolds

Volunteer, UK
Ludmila Juraschko
Chernobyl Dogs Liaison, Ukraine
Markus Hegen
Volunteer, Germany
Nadezhda Appolonov
Volunteer, Ukraine
Sergei Denysenko
Volunteer, Ukraine
Sergei Lutchenko
Volunteer, Ukraine
Vladimir Loptev
Volunteer, Ukraine
Vladimir Lutchenko
Volunteer, Ukraine
Before and After: A stray Chernobyl puppy affected by mange that was treated by veterinarians at the Dogs of Chernobyl hospital in August 2017.


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