Residents of Dzerzhinsk, Russia, were met with an eerie sight last week as bright blue dogs were spotted roaming the streets near an abandoned chemical plant. Users took to Twitter to share images of the striking hounds, which quickly went viral across social media.
The dogs were first posted to the Russian social media site VK.com before more emerged on Twitter.
Whilst it may look like a sci-fi, radiation-induced mutation, there is a more tragic explanation. The dogs appear to be strays that inhabit the surrounding area that has come in contact with leaked toxic chemicals from the nearby factory. Previously owned by Orgsteklo, which went bankrupt in 2015, the factory is part of a complex of abandoned buildings that produced plexiglass and hydrocyanic acid. It is likely that the dogs became exposed to the copper sulfate used in manufacturing, which has a pale-blue color, dying their fur in the process.
“Homeless dogs are running around the area. Perhaps, in one of the buildings they found some kind of chemical residue - copper sulfate, for example, was rolled in it. Several years ago, I heard, noticed that some dogs were painted in some unnatural colors. They also found something, no one controls them. I cannot bear the costs of capturing homeless animals and their sterilization," said Andrey Mislivets, the bankruptcy manager of Dzerzhinskoye Plexiglas, to the news outlet Ria Novosti.
The authorities of the Dzerzhinkoye region did some negotiating with Orgsteklo, which owns the complex so that they could round up and catch the dogs to ensure their welfare. Such chemicals could pose a serious risk to their health, so either adoption or euthanasia is required to stop this cruelty.
A week after the first reports, animal welfare responders rounded up the dogs and gave them to a shelter. Experts believed these chemicals would cause damage to the dogs’ skin, but after examination by veterinary staff, all 7 dogs were in good health.
In even better news, two of the dogs have since found a home, according to the Ria Novosti on Twitter.
The latest dyed dogs are not the only ones that have been found. Incidents of mysterious colors appearing on stray dogs have surfaced multiple times in past years, most notably the bright blue dogs of Mumbai in 2017.
A manufacturing company was found to be dumping dyes into the Kasandi river, prompting local outrage as 11 stray dogs were found to be dyed. Following a brief investigation, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board shut down the plant to prevent further contamination.