EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) - A four-legged friend from a foreign land has now found a new home in El Dorado County. The dog's adoption here in America is part of an international effort to rescue animals living in a Ukrainian disaster zone.
"We were just so happy when we got her," said Christine Anderson of Cool, California.
The 7-month-old mutt Persik has the loving glow of a newly adopted dog and she has come a long way to find her forever home.
"In terms of adopting a dog internationally, it is a little crazy," Anderson laughed.
Persik is from one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. The radioactive zone surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, a place not even humans are allowed to live, but, animals still do.
The pup was born into a pack of feral dogs living in the evacuation zones, a descendant of the dogs left behind by their owners who were forced to leave them and flee.
"People were never able to return," Anderson said.
While workers continue cleaning up the radioactive waste stretching a thousand square miles, the dogs left behind have had to fend for themselves.
"She would've likely been either killed by predators or starved to death or frozen to death," Anderson said.
After more than 3 decades, 22 dogs were rescued this year. Persik was the last.
"You can't bring anything out of the exclusion zone, these puppies are the first things to ever make it out," she said.
Persik has been cleared of contamination, although it's unknown if there are any radioactive long-term consequences.
She came to the United States a crate on a 10-hour flight. While she now has all the freedom she can ever want, she prefers to be nestled away inside under a table.
"She has a few weird habits. She really likes to hide underneath things, she's always looking for a little then space, and she builds nests. She'll take shoes, take clothes, anything she could find and make a little barrier around herself," Anderson said. "I think it makes her feel safe."
It also helps to have a four-legged sister Daisy who makes Persik feel a part of the new pack.
"I think another month and you won't know she was a wild dog," she said.
A radiant addition to this family's new home and whose prospects of a happy and healthy life look a little bit brighter.
Efforts are underway to rescue hundreds of dogs that remain inside the exclusion zone, an area that experts believe will be contaminated for the next 20,000 years.
Clean Futures Fund has spearheaded the campaign to help rescue these dogs. Click here to find out how you can help.
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