How HBO's Chernobyl Is Helping Save Stray Puppies

Chernobyl Ulana Khomyuk Emily Watson HBO
(Image credit: Liam Daniel / HBO)

HBO’s Chernobyl has been a massive hit with viewers and critics alike following its premiere in early May. The miniseries stress-inducingly dramatized the aftereffects and cleanup work following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which occurred a little over 33 years ago, in April 1986.

The renewed spotlight cast on the disaster by HBO's Chernobyl is leading to other more optimistic current-day happenings. It is believed to be causing a boom in efforts to help save the surprisingly large number of stray puppies traversing the Chernobyl area. Following the HBO series’ release, Clean Future Fund’s The Dogs of Chernobyl has experienced a substantial increase in attention and awareness.

The fund’s president, Lucas Hixson, reports that its donation flow has doubled and possibly tripled, per USA TODAY. As you can imagine, conditions in the area are not suitable for very many animals, much less a large number of uncared-for puppies. Tragically, the dogs' life expectancy is reportedly less than two years with the way things are going.

After the recovery efforts, the non-profit organization is putting some of the puppies rescued from the exclusion zone up for adoption. Forty Chernobyl puppies were adopted last year, and over 2,000 applicants are now hoping to follow suit. I’m curious to know how much the application intake rose during series' run and after it aired.

It is awesome to hear that the Chernobyl series is having such a positive impact on the puppies’ plight, and is helping generate some results where they are concerned. That is nothing short of beautiful, in my opinion, and it's a positive byproduct of what happens when viewers are touched and feel led to take action. Another recent example, also for an HBO show, would be Game of Thrones' fans efforts to raise money for Emilia Clarke’s charity.

Saving the puppies has not been the first indication of Chernobyl's impact on viewers. A few weeks ago, it was reported that the HBO mini had inspired a ton of tourism near the ill-fated power plant, apparently resulting in a 30% increase over 2018’s tourism to both that area and the neighboring town of Pripyat.

That was just in May, when the miniseries first got started. When it comes to bookings for June, July, and August of this year, the reservations rose by at least 40%. The presumption is, of course, that Chernobyl viewers are the majority of those booking the trips. Is could be correlative and not causative, but the circumstantial evidence is powerful.

Chernobyl’s producer has spoken out on what he hopes viewers will take away from the HBO series, and the miniseries' effect on the culture is currently being felt and seen. How many other cable shows can claim they've influence rises in tourism and attempts save precious stray puppies.

Chernobyl was ranked as one of the highest-rated TV shows of all time in late May. At that point, Chernobyl was beating out the likes of acclaimed dramas, Breaking Bad and The Wire. It ended its run as the highest-rated TV series on IMDb, beating out all scripted dramas and the wildly popular nature docuseries, Planet Earth.

Critical acclaim is not the only area where Chernobyl succeeded. It also garnered impressive ratings, actually besting Game of Thrones in dedicated viewership via HBO’s online streaming services.

Chernobyl is currently available to stream on HBO Go and HBO Now. Lots of summer television premieres are still heading prospective viewers’ way, so stay tuned to see which show will inspire more humanitarianism.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.