Today, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone covers an area of 2,600 square kilometers, and it is still mostly abandoned. However, despite the high levels of radioactivity, nature has been recovering. Animals such as wolves, foxes, and boars have returned along with the growth of new forest. In addition to the wild animals, there is a large population of dogs that live in the Exclusion Zone. Some of them are related to the pets that were left behind in the area, and others are recent arrivals.
Humans still can’t live in the Exclusion Zone, but there are about 3,000 people who work at the site. Among these people are guards, who watch out for thieves and others trying to go into the area. After years of working in the Zone, some interesting friendships have formed between the guards and the dogs. The dogs love to keep the guards company as they go around the Zone, and the guards pay back the loyalty by providing shelter and medicine for the dogs, checking them for radiation, and sometimes giving them names.
Dogs and humans have been living together for thousands of years, and the Exclusion Zone gives us one more example of why we call them “man’s best friend.”