After the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, many dogs found themselves suddenly homeless. Evacuated in the aftermath of the explosion, residents were told to leave their pets behind. They were under the impression that they’d be able to return a few days later for their beloved animals.

Instead, soldiers were instructed to shoot the left-behind pets — but were thankfully unable to find and kill all of them. The result is the present-day population of 250 descendants of the canines abandoned after the disaster. Due to their exposure to radiation, it’s illegal to adopt dogs living in the Exclusion Zone. The only human contact the dogs have is with workers at the plant, who feed them scraps.

Lucas, a scientist who visited Chernobyl for work, noticed the overpopulation of stray dogs and was compelled to do something to improve their quality of life. He teamed up with his friend, Eric, and started the Clean Futures Fund.

Volunteers and veterinarians work together to vaccinate and sterilize the dogs. Teams are dispatched to catch the dogs, who are then brought to a temporary clinic outside the plant. The dogs are frisked for radiation, decontaminated, treated, and set free.

The organization is also working with the Ukrainian government to update the laws so the dogs can be rescued. Research has yielded no scientific evidence that the dogs pose radiation risks to humans.

Thank you, Lucas and the other heroes of the Clean Future Fund for helping these dogs in desperate need!