• Animal control director flies to Ukraine to help animals near Chernobyl site

    By: Julie Leonardi

    Updated:

    BOSTON - The New Bedford Animal Control director is flying across the world to help rescue stray animals with radiation poisoning near the Chernobyl site in Ukraine.

    Manny Maciel says hundreds of cats and dogs are out on the street and need medical attention. Many were born from pets that families were forced to leave behind when they evacuated more than 30 years ago. 

    Maciel is using his own time and money to make a difference. 

    "A lot of volunteers are coming in from around the world," said Maciel, who boarded an overseas flight Thursday evening to help hundreds of stray cats and dogs that would have otherwise been killed.

    "It's actually an honor to be asked to do something like this," he said.

    Maciel has paid his own way overseas to help rescue hundreds of dogs and cats on the streets of Pripyat, the home of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

    "We spay and neuter their dogs and check for radiation then get them vaccinated, and also some cats in the area, then return them back," Maciel said. 

    He said the organization he is assisting is the Clean Futures Fund, a group that helps rescue stray animals that have been left behind after disasters. 

    This is the third and final year of the program to help the Ukrainian government control the population without euthanizing the animals.

    Maciel says they will likely save the lives of 300 to 500 cats and dogs during the next three weeks. 

    "It’s frightening but it’s going to be a great experience," he said. 

    Maciel has volunteered his time helping animals after disasters here in the U.S. as well. He said he now helps with programs in Massachusetts funded by the federal government. 

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