Just returned from Fukushima again
Taking 22 cat cages and a lot of food and water, we went to the disaster site once again. As in all of our past visits, coming across so many lives waiting to be rescued was very difficult. I felt so sad knowing how little we individuals can do.
With the home addresses given by pet owners, we first went looking for cats that their owners asked us to rescue. Then we searched the nearby areas of each home we went, to see if there were any more cats around. We didn’t have to look hard. There were cats everywhere, all extremely thin. As always, they were hard to capture though. All we could do is to set up the cages with food in it and wait. The ones who would venture into the cages were mostly larger males that seemed to still have some energy left. The female cats that bore kittens without food and water were in woefully sad shapes, emaciated with completely flattened tummies.
Not having enough cages, we had to prioritize the cats that looked most at risk to take back to our hospital. Even though they seemed to be mature cats, many seemed to weigh less than 2 kg (4.4 lbs), just skin and bones. After a while, we noticed that the ones we were able to capture seemed to be categorized in two groups. One group was the cats that obviously seemed used to being loved and cared for. They came to us easily, and were affectionate. The other group consisted of the cats still left with enough strength to eat, however awful shapes they were in. Hollow eyes of those cats told terrible ordeals they must have gone through to survive this far.
After a long day of the round-trip travel and rescue mission, it was past midnight by the time we reached our headquarters (TNR Animal Welfare Hospital) in Kanagawa. Yet there were volunteers waiting for us to help settle the cats in the facility. Incredibly, they rushed over after taking care of the animals from our two other affiliated shelters. I feel extremely
fortunate to have help from such dedicated and hardworking people; the people who go to rescue sites with me, staff at our hospital, volunteers in various capacities, and supporters. They are all like angels to me. Only with all these people’s generous help and support, I am able to save precious lives even with my physical disabilities left from a stroke I had earlier in the year.
The cats brought back will be examined for their health conditions first. Then they will be wormed, given vaccines, and spayed or neutered in our hospital. But there is a big problem; our hospital facilities have been completely overwhelmed. We cannot take any more animals. Expanding the custodial facility is a solution, but I just received an estimate that came in at 3,000,000. yen (~$37,500). As it is, we’re on an extremely tight budget in terms of our operational expenses, and we have no reserve. There’s really no source for that much money. It is a very frustrating and disheartening situation.
The condition in the disaster areas was getting even worse, if that was possible. Unfathomable amount of flies were there. It was not just in the off-limits zone within 20km of the nuclear plants, it was the same many kilometers outside of the zone. If we opened the car door even just a little sliver, flies swarmed into the car in a split second. As soon as we left canned food for dogs and cats, flies landed and left eggs instantly. Even dry food got completely covered by flies in a flash. As soon as we placed the food, they looked like buzzing black masses. They were utterly horrible sights. We have no choice but to leave food for the helplessly wandering dogs and cats, but under these circumstances the food in turn could be health hazards to them. It was and will continue to be a horrendous and hazardous situation.
The animals need to be rescued as soon as possible. Shortening their wait even by one day will make a big difference.
Again, I feel terribly helpless.