There are a number of naturally blue-colored dogs, including Blue heelers (Australian Cattle Dogs), Kerry Blue Terriers, Bluetick Coonhounds and Blue Lacies. These and a few others have two recessive genes that create this coat color. However, one area of Russia is seeing a number of blue dogs and they’re genes are perfectly normal. So, why are they blue?
“They found some striking blue dogs in Russia, in the city of Dzerzhinsk an event occurred that puzzled more than one, they found a herd of dogs that aroused their astonishment, since they all had blue fur.”
The sightings were first reported on Twitter posts with photographs (see here) of many bright blue dogs blocking a road, along with others that were partially blue. News spread quickly and other blue dogs were seen in Dzerzhinsk, a city in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast on the Oka River,230 miles east of Moscow. Dzerzhinsk is a mysterious city to both Russians and outsiders because of its secret and sinister past – a past that may have something to do with the sudden appearance of blue dogs.
“Remember the blue dogs from Dzerzhinsk? Local residents sounded the alarm last week after seeing stray animals of an unnatural color. Now they are at the animal rights activists, they have already been examined by veterinarians – the tests of all seven are normal. Two dogs have already found new owners.”
Another tweeter puts the cart before the horse – or the collar before the dog – in reporting that the dogs were picked up (see here) and examined by local veterinarians and found to be healthy … well, except for the unnatural blue color. Newsweek interviewed Kelly O’Meara, the Humane Society International’s Vice President of companion animals, who didn’t sound like she believed that “everything’s ok … nothing more to see here” diagnosis.
“This situation with street dogs living near an abandoned chemical plant in Dzerzhinsk, Russia, has shown a very obvious welfare issue through the discoloration of their fur. The dye on their fur implies they have had direct contact with or even ingestion of potentially toxic or harmful substances. This could result in painful skin burning or itching or internal bleeding and illness that could lead to death, without veterinary intervention.”
Yes, the dogs were found near the Dzerzhinskoye Plexiglas joint-stock company plant – at one time the largest chemical company in the region, producing acrylic glass and hydrocyanic acid … as in cyanide. RIA Novosti hints at the city’s big secret – it was one of Russia’s principal production sites for chemical weapons, making lewisite, a poison made from arsenic trioxide, and yerite or mustard gas. The entire city was closed to foreign visitors until recently. Production of the chemical weapons allegedly ceased in 1965 but the waste materials were stored rather than destroyed, and many of the factories are abandoned but still standing. That’s the case with the Dzerzhinskoye Plexiglas factory – it was declared bankrupt in 2015 but the buildings are still there for homeless dogs to seek shelter in from the cold. Some shelter.
“Homeless dogs are running around the territory. Perhaps, in one of the buildings they found the remains of some kind of chemistry – copper sulfate, for example, tumbled into 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 catching homeless animals and their sterilization.”
Andrey Mislivets, the bankruptcy manager of the Dzerzhinskoye Plexiglas company, says the dogs might have gotten into something bad that turned them blue, but takes no responsibly and offers no solution. Unfortunately, because it’s private property, the Dzerzhinsk city administration can’t just go in and rescue the dogs – remember, this was a secret chemical weapons production area.
Mislivets also pulls a “what about …?”, saying “Several years ago something similar happened when stray dogs got unnatural dyes.” He could have also pointed to a similar incident of blue dogs in 2017 in the Tajola industrial area on the Kasadi river near Mumbai, India, that is home to 997 chemical, pharmaceutical, engineering and food processing factories.
The dogs may recover and the color may go away, but their appearance in Dzerzhinsk should make all of us blue.
(Note: blue dog at top is not one of the Russian dogs)