NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — New Bedford Director of Animal Control Manny Maciel loves animals.
So it’s no wonder he jumped on the opportunity to travel to Ukraine to help animals affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
The site of the 1986 nuclear reactor explosion is now home to hundreds of abandoned dogs whose ancestors were left behind as residents evacuated the area decades ago.
“Once I was there the feeling of danger went away,” Maciel said.
Maciel said he used some of his vacation time for the trip and spent three weeks with other volunteers from around the world as part of the Clean Futures Fund.
The organization helps round up the hundreds of the so-called “Chernobyl dogs,” often by tranquilizing them. The dogs are then spayed or neutered, vaccinated and tagged before being returned back to the site.
Researchers are also using the information for long-term studies on the site. Maciel said the dogs are not radioactive and he was continually checked.
A few thousand workers continue to take care of the abandoned site and dogs.
“They all love these dogs,” Maciel said. “They feed them, they obviously don’t get close to them.”
Looking back at his trip, Maciel said he is proud of what they accomplished. Altogether, he said they helped 630 animals.
“I love helping people and I love helping animals,” he said.