Tempting as it is, you definitely should not pet these puppies.
The adorable canines featured in filmmaker Drew Scanlon’s new documentary, appropriately named “Puppies of Chernobyl,” are all the offspring (or the offspring of the offspring, etc.) of animals that survived the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
That means the dogs could be as radioactive as they are cute. Experts say the dogs’ fur could contain dangerous radioactive particles, according to Vice, which is why visitors are warned not to touch them when they enter the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the 1,000-square-mile expanse of Ukraine where the contamination is worst.
More than 120,000 people had to evacuated in the aftermath of the meltdown, according to News Corp Australia, and the dogs they left behind have kept breeding.
“These guys are outside the power plant’s canteen, 1500 yards or 1400 meters from reactor four,” the narrator says, as the fluffy little dogs caper around the abandoned nuclear power plant and its surroundings.
At some points in the video, a puppy will bound towards the person holding the camera, only for the camera operator to step back cautiously.
“It goes without saying that I really wanted to pet this puppy,” the narrator says as the cute puppy approaches.
Dogs aren’t everywhere in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, but many canines gather together in places where there’s plenty of food, like the canteen where these puppies were found.
There are an estimated 900 stray dogs at Chernobyl, according to News Corp, in addition to a host of other wild animals.
And efforts are underway to neuter and vaccinate the dogs to prevent disease and protect those who work at the site.
“Rabies is not only a risk for animals, but also for humans,” says Julie Sanders of Four Paws, an organization working to vaccinate, spay and neuter the dogs. “By vaccinating the stray dogs, we are also protecting the 3500 nuclear power plant workers who come into contact with the dogs and look after them.”
Cleanup of the radioactive site is scheduled to continue until at least 2065, according to the documentary, though Vice notes that the area might not be safe for humans for 20,000 years.