Publication date
March 2022
Format info
112 pages

Chernobyl’s Dogs

Tšernobylin koirat

A documentary-style account of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster and its far-reaching effects on the local people, animals, and surrounding nature in the Exclusion Zone.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in April 1986 remains to this day the most disastrous nuclear accident of all time. When Pripyat and other surrounding villages were abandoned, after the mass evacuations began two days after the reactor’s meltdown, no one was allowed to take their pets with them. Howling dogs tried to follow their owners, they even tried boarding buses but soldiers kicked them off. Still, the dogs ran after the buses transporting their owners to safety. There was no mercy. Soviet troops were sent in to shoot the animals but some survived and their descendants still populate the polluted Exclusion Zone. In this touching and still hauntingly relevantdocumentary-style graphic novel, which had just gone to print when Russia invaded Ukraine, Johanna Aulén recounts the events of the nuclear disaster and its devastating impact on the environment and the canine inhabitants left behind.

During the ongoing war, Russian troops have jeopardized the safety of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and raised the spectre of the Chernobyl disaster in their occupation of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear power station in Europe. THE DOGS OF CHERNOBYL highlights the Soviet leaders’ mistakes and disregard for human life thirty-six years ago that remain chillingly manifest to this day.

Johanna Aulén has donated the North American English language e-book rights to the graphic novel to the Clean Futures Fund (CFF), a non-profit that works to provide long-term support for communities affected by industrial accidents, such as Chernobyl. All proceeds from sales of the Kindle e-book edition go towards CFF’s aid projects in Ukraine, where the NGO has worked for several years with the Ukrainian government in assisting people and animals still affected by the Chernobyl disaster. CFF provides sterilization, vaccinations and medical care, as well as food for the stray dogs in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Awards & Nominations

Nominated for the Graphic Novel Finlandia Prize 2023


Finnish Edition
Full English translation in layout


‘The documentary-style graphic novel gives an account of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster and the dogs that live there, spanning from the fateful event in 1986 to present day.’  The selection committee has commended Aulén’s work for ‘deep understanding of life’, and for ‘her storytelling through realistic and minimalistic illustrations that draw the reader in as an eyewitness’  – The selection committee the Graphic Novel Finlandia Prize

Aulén’s graphic novel skilfully builds an overview of the causes disasaster and its consequences, particularly on the animals.’ Helsingin Sanomat newspaper