After the critically acclaimed HBO series Chernobyl brought attention to the real-life nuclear disaster that occurred in 1986, a GoFundMe is using the renewed interest in the disaster to raise funds for the hundreds of stray animals that still live in the exclusion site.
Created on May 10, 2017, the GoFundMe titled “Save the Dogs of Chernobyl,” is raising money for the hundreds of dogs living at the site of the Chernobyl Power Plant nuclear accident, as well as the 30 kilometers that surround it.
The fundraising page was created by the Clean Futures Fund (CFF), which is “a U.S. humanitarian aid organization that has partnered with the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Management Agency in Ukraine to provide medical care for the stray dogs that live in the area,” a representative from GoFundMe told PEOPLE.
“Rescued dogs are treated for radiation poisoning, as well as vaccinated for rabies and spayed and neutered,” the statement added. “CFF hopes the survivors can be adopted into loving forever homes.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the page has raised $63,345, with a goal set of $127,000. The majority of the funds have come as of late, likely from viewers of the HBO’s Chernobyl, which is now the highest-rated TV series on IDMB.
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The page also features a five-minute long video, which shows the aftereffects the dogs in the area have faced since the explosion.
Following the May 27 episode of Chernobyl, creator Craig Mazin addressed a bleak scene from the episode, which showed workers known as “liquidators” shooting dogs left behind at the exclusion site surrounding the power plant to prevent the spread of radiation contamination.
“I know that was hard. Just so there’s no confusion— the story of the liquidators is real. It happened. And we actually toned it down from the full story,” Mazin tweeted after the episode. “War leaves all kinds of scars. These were the things men were ordered to do.”
SPCA International, an animal welfare organization working to help the stray dogs living near Chernobyl today, backed up Mazin’s claims, adding that many evacuees believed they would be reunited with the pets they were forced to leave behind, pets that were later exterminated by liquidators.
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“When thousands of people were forced to evacuate Chernobyl in 1986, they were allowed to take only what they could carry. They were told they would be home soon, so most people left their pets behind with a little extra food and water. Unfortunately, these families were never allowed to return for their beloved cats and dogs,” SPCA International writes on their site.
SPCA International is now caring for the modern day descendants of the canines and cats that survived Chernobyl and the liquidators. Once relegated to a difficult life of health issues and sparse resources, these animals now receive food, medical care, vaccines, and sterilizations thanks to SPCA International and their partner the Clean Futures Fund.
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In 2018, 15 puppies — the first animals or objects to be allowed to leave the Nuclear Exclusion Zone since its creation — were placed in loving forever homes in the United States, a “groundbreaking” success for the pets of Chernobyl.