What has four legs, blue fur, and represents a neglected environmental threat? 

What do the Russian towns of Dzerzhinsk and Podolsk have in common? Their ability, apparently, to produce brightly-dyed dogs. The blue and pink strays were first found on February 11 by curious locals in Dzerzhinsk, a city near Nizhny Novgorod, 230 miles east of Moscow. A week later, green dogs were discovered in Podolsk, a town 23 miles south of Moscow. 

Each group of dogs appears to have gained its unique color from different local factories. The blue Dzerzhinsk dogs were found by an old glass factory, where, the BBC reports, "It is suspected that the dogs rolled around in powdered blue dye." The pink dogs were found close to the Kristall defense plant, which manufactures explosives and ammunition. And the green dogs in Podolsk were "seen near an abandoned warehouse, where ... according to a Moscow regional minister ... sacks of powdered green paint had been stored." Still, according to the BBC, "some Russians on social media suspect the Podolsk dogs might have been deliberately painted for a sick joke, as the bright blue dogs had impressed so many people earlier." Regardless of the specific color, the intensity of the dogs' coloration varies, from a patch on the ear to all over. And while it may sound like a Dr. Seuss book, the three separate incidents belie something grimmer.

In 2007, Pure Earth (formerly the Blacksmith Institute), wrote of Dzerzhinsk:

"A once-secret manufacturing center of the Soviet Union’s defense industry, Dzerzhinsk (population 300,000) has hosted many chemical factories, including production facilities for Sarin and VX nerve gas. Lead additives for gasoline, mustard gas, munitions, and other highly-polluting products can also claim this city as their birthplace. While many of these factories are now closed ... The groundwater and soil around the city, about 250 miles east of Moscow, remain severely polluted with phenol, arsenic, dioxins, heavy metals, and a host of other toxins. Dzerzhinsk ... holds the ignominious title of “The Most Chemically Polluted Town” in the world. Greenpeace claims that the average life expectancy of city residents may have shrunk to a mere 45 years."

The Daily Mail reported, "Officials in the city claimed the allegations were exaggerated."

As for the dogs? Both the blue and green dogs are at local veterinarian offices now, although, according to East2West news agency, there are no plans for the pink dogs as of yet. And while "traces of Prussian blue dye were found in their fur," the blue dogs appear "quite healthy and friendly."

FOX News reported, "Examiners from the Lobachevsky Research Institute of Chemistry at Nizhny Novgorod State University, as well as the Committee for State Veterinary Surveillance, found 'no signs of irritating chemical burns,' while results from the blood and stool tests did not reveal significant toxicity. The blue dogs reportedly will remain under close observation for about 20 days."

Hopefully, the dogs will be fine—and maybe this will serve as a push for Dzerzhinsk to deal with its "toxic legacy." 

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.