I talked over the phone with a veterinarian who just returned to Kawasaki from working in Fukushima. He said a Parliament member told him there would be no possibility of officially sanctioned entry into the off limits security areas for the rescue organizations. I was absolutely devastated to hear that.
This is the politician we’ve been working with to advance animal welfare issues with the Japanese government. Since the disaster, we’ve been working closely on the rescue missions for the left behind dogs and cats. Did he come to conclude this is the end of the road for the rescue efforts? That’s just what the government wants us to do, give up. If it were his own family left there, wouldn’t he venture out and try to rescue them? But if they were dogs or cats, he wouldn’t bother. It is the same as saying the lives of the dogs and cats are less worthy. They are still the precious lives.
After hearing this horrible news, I contacted the politician and urged him to please be the voice of the animals who couldn’t speak, who were relegated to neglect and abandonment. We need his help to turn the dire situation around, to prompt the Japanese government to do the responsible things they are supposed to do.
After the disaster, Fukushima prefectural government and the local veterinarian association cooperated and formed an animal rescue department for the prefecture. However, the operation is shockingly small. There are only five people in the department; one official and four veterinarians serving the entire prefecture. I have visited their office to learn their operation. The phone’s ringing off the hook from the displaced residents inquiring, requesting protection of their pets, filing complaints, and so on.
The staff has been working tirelessly everyday, late into nights and even through weekends. Their days are spent taking care of the rescued animals in their facility, finding their owners, and going out to the off limits areas to leave food and water, as well as rescuing the animals left out there, in addition to answering the phone when they can, as there are no designated office staffs. I must repeat, all of this is done by the five people. The day of my visit, I was fortunate to meet one of the veterinarians who returned to the office from a feed and rescue mission. He was gaunt from prolonged overwork and exhaustion, but was eager to tell me what they did. But the cold fact is, no matter how dedicated and hard working they are, five people alone cannot possibly save all the animals left in Fukushima. This grossly inadequate situation must be solved urgently by the national government.
Just returned from Fukushima
There are many details of our activities to report, but I must talk about the animals left behind in the off limits security zone because of the radiation hazard. Before the absolute no entrance rule was set, some pet owners (who have been living in evacuation centers and temporary housing where pets were not allowed) and volunteers were sneaking in and leaving food for the animals, but it’s been over 2 months since the absolute rule has been imposed for some areas. There can’t be any more food and water left for them in those areas. Already countless animals must have died and yet many more are suffering the slow and painful deaths by starvation. Another hard fact is, from what we understand by talking to the residents, most of those dogs and cats are not spayed or neutered. Consequently, many animals would become pregnant. Starved, dehydrated, and pregnant, the agony those mother dogs and cats must go through is heartbreaking.
With regard to dogs, even though they are generally easier to capture than cats, there are some that won’t let you get near them. For those, we need crate type catching devices. In Okuma-cho, one of the off limits areas, we saw a spot many dogs were gathering yesterday. For some reason they were all Shiba inus, about twenty of them. We really must hurry to capture them. Left alone, there will be even more painful deaths, of the mother dogs and their puppies.
The situation is absolutely dire now, but the Japanese government is hardly doing anything. There is an enormous number of animals waiting helplessly. By the way things are going, I’m afraid those poor dogs and cats will be long dead before anything is done. So many cats got loose, at this point they are not easily visible even if you try hard to find them. Under these circumstances, at the absolute minimum, we must put adequate food and water out now.
There are few people who are risking their lives to feed their pets while being displaced, but soon even that little bit of care will become impossible to give. Security for the off limits areas is becoming tighter for one thing, but the bigger problem is the quickly passing time. Once the winter and snow arrive, just reaching the areas will become prohibitive. The winter in the northeast is very inhospitable with freezing temperature and deep snow; it will certainly wipe out what’s left of the starving and weakened dogs and cats. We must think about how to get them out now, as the winter comes early, quickly, and harshly in the cold country.
We need your help! Your donation to Animal Rescue Fund allows us to keep doing anything that we possibly can to help the abandoned animals in the no-entry evacuation zone. We would greatly appreciate any help that you can give us. Animal Rescue Fund does not have its own no-kill animal shelter. Because of this, we are bringing the animals that we rescued to a pet hotel in Fukushima Prefecture for a temporary stay; we are transporting the animals one by one to our TNR Japan Animal Welfare Hospital. We just don’t have enough room in our hospital to allow us to bring all of the rescued animals down here at once.
Bank Name : Bank of Yokohama , Oshima Branch (Code 821)
Account No : Ordinary Account 1189874
Account Name : Inunekokyusainowa
Heading to Fukushima to catch and rescue the abandoned animals
With 20 cat crates and a ton of dog and cat food as usual, we’re going to Fukushima today. The main purpose is to catch and rescue the cats, and also to leave food for the dogs and cats still left there. Since we’ve put in a lot of efforts into rescuing dogs in the past, we’re focusing on the cats this time. They are elusive and so hard to catch, and it’s agonizing knowing their fate if we are not able to rescue them out of the cordoned off areas.
We’d like to give our heartfelt thanks to those who sent us goods and supplies; crates, food, treats, milk for puppies and kittens, cat litter, flea meds, and many more items. They are extremely important to our rescue efforts.
There already are many cats being cared for in a commercial pet care facility in Fukushima that we rescued at the request of their displaced owners. The owners said they were afraid many cats became pregnant while they were loose, since most were not spayed or neutered.
We must hurry…but there are so many urgent matters to take care of. Frankly I’m at a loss to determine what to take on first. As an emergency measure, we’re discussing a possibility of sending a team of veterinarians to Fukushima for spay and neuter surgeries, and for vaccinations including rabies and heart worms.
Even though we have caught and rescued many cats so far, there are still so many out there. Once the strict “no entrance” rule (due to the radiation danger) was imposed, the cats still left in the area would perish from starvation. Knowing this as the sure and horrific scenario, I was determined to go back there to rescue as many cats as I could as long as I am physically able to do so.