Don't Pet the Puppies in Chernobyl

Sean Gallup, Getty Images
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

In 1986, the residents of Chernobyl were forced to flee their homes when the town’s nuclear power plant turned into a disaster zone. The area of Ukraine has been without a permanent human population ever since, but that doesn’t mean it’s empty. The landscape is teeming with insects, plant life, and even radioactive puppies descended from the house pets that were abandoned there 31 years ago.

A new mini documentary from Cloth Map explores the lives of some of Chernobyl’s cutest occupants. In the “Puppies of Chernobyl,” the tiny animals can be seen playing, wagging their tails, and running around just like domesticated dogs. Though the stray dogs tend to gather around places with the most tourist activity, like Chernobyl’s canteen, contact between humans and puppies is discouraged. As host Drew Scanlon explains in the video below, “Visitors are advised not to touch animals in the exclusion zone because they could carry radioactive particles in their fur.”

According to Newsweek, the radioactivity goes even deeper than that. When the American nonprofit Clean Futures Fund surveyed dogs in the exclusion zone, they found pockets of radioisotopes in their bones. The organization has set up a spay and neuter clinic nearby to keep the line of Chernobyl dogs from proliferating.

Parts of Chernobyl have been open to visitors since 2011, but officials still warn about the health risks posed to visitors who don’t follow the rules. Despite this, some explorers, like YouTube star Bionerd23, have been known to taste-test radioactive apples and feed catfish off the designated path. Even the workers with the Clean Futures Fund can’t resist petting the puppies in Chernobyl, but at least they know enough to wash their hands afterwards.

[h/t Newsweek]

You’re Probably Not Cleaning Your Dog’s Leash—But Here’s Why You Should Be

Tim Graham, Getty Images
Tim Graham, Getty Images

There are several items you use every day that you probably aren't cleaning enough, like your phone, your water bottle, and your pajamas. If you're a dog owner, there may be one especially filthy object in your home that you don't clean at all: your pet's leash. According to Reader's Digest, leashes get dirty fast, and if you can't remember the last time you cleaned yours, it's definitely due to be sanitized.

Leashes are just as easily soiled as anything you touch on a regular basis. Constant use causes microbes and oils from your hands to build up on the handle. And chances are, the leash is also covered with your dog's own germs, fur, and saliva, as well as mud and dirt from the outside world. This adds up to create a cocktail of nastiness on the leash that's hanging beside your front door.

The quickest way to gauge if your leash needs to be cleaned is to look at it. Is it covered with hair and splattered with mud? If yes, it should definitely be taken care of before your dog's next walk. But even a relatively neat looking leash should be cleaned about once a month. For rope and nylon leashes, let it soak in hot soapy water for 10 minutes before rinsing it and hanging it to dry. Scrubbing with a soft nylon brush may be necessary for tougher messes like stains and caked-on grime. Some leashes can also be safely cleaned in the washing machine in a delicates bag. If your dog's leash gets dirty quickly, you may want to invest in a few extras so you aren't constantly washing the one you have.

If you're looking for cleaning projects, disinfecting the items around your home that you've been neglecting is an excellent time-killer. From pillows to shower heads, here's how often you should be washing common household items.

[h/t Reader's Digest]

Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Site in Pennsylvania Amish Country Accommodates Horses and Buggies

William Thomas Cain/Stringer/Getty Images
William Thomas Cain/Stringer/Getty Images

One way coronavirus testing centers can encourage social distancing is by testing patients in their vehicles. In Pennsylvania's Amish Country, that includes horses and buggies as well as cars. As CNN reports, a small clinic is accommodating the old-school transportation method in an effort to make tests more accessible to Amish and Mennonite communities.

Most residents of Belleville, Pennsylvania, are Amish or Mennonite—two groups that are uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their cautious approach to technology can result in lower news consumption, which may leave people ill-informed about a crisis that's changing by the day.

Both communities are also tight-knit: a benefit in most times of hardship, but a recipe for tragedy during a pandemic. "When they have church, they have 300 people crowded together in a little farmhouse. From the point of view of an infection like this, this is a disaster," Dr. D. Holmes Morton, founder and medical director of the Central Pennsylvania Clinic in Belleville, told CNN.

Many Amish and Mennonite meetings and church services have been suspended indefinitely, but social distancing is just one part of keeping the communities safe. Testing is also essential to containing the virus, and the Central Pennsylvania Clinic aims to make its tests available to as many people as possible. As one of the few coronavirus testing sites in the area, they're working to test asymptotic patients as well as those who are feeling sick. Research suggests that up to 50 percent of novel coronavirus carriers show no symptoms.

The clinic is not just accommodating Amish and Mennonite patients, but also how they see them. Residents are able to roll up in their horses and buggies and get tested without stepping into the clinic. At least 65 people have used the drive-through (or ride-through) clinic since it opened on April 1.

[h/t CNN]