Activists urge gov't to allow animal rescue groups into Fukushima no-entry zone

TOKYO —

Born Free USA and thousands of Change.org members on Thursday urged the Japanese government to allow rescuers into the Fukushima evacuation zone to help the starving animals who have been abandoned. For the past several weeks, thousands of animals in the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been left to fend for themselves.

“Various animal welfare groups have mobilized in Japan and are willing and ready to help these animals.  The Japanese government simply needs to allow them access,” said Linda Wolfe, program associate for Born Free USA. “The survival of countless animals depends on a compassionate response from decision-makers in Japan who can enable an appropriate rescue effort.  With thousands of innocent animals facing slow, painful deaths, there is no time to waste.”

When nuclear disaster struck Fukushima, Japanese officials had no contingency plan for evacuating animals. People were forced to leave quickly, and ordered to leave their animals behind. For the first few weeks, residents and rescuers were allowed to enter the evacuation zone at their own risk to provide care for animals, but they could not bring any animals out of the zone.

On April 22, the Japanese government enacted a strict no-entry policy, leaving tens of thousands of animals without aid for weeks. As recently as last week, rescuers were reporting that anyone caught sneaking into the evacuation zone to help animals would be arrested.

“The suffering that’s happening right now in the Fukushima evacuation zone is staggering,” said Stephanie Feldstein, editor for Change.org. “Born Free USA has given those forgotten animals a voice, and thousands from the Change.org community have stepped up to support them.”

The Japan Anti-Vivisection Association believes that nearly 675,000 farm animals lived in the evacuation zone prior to the disaster. As few as 1,000 are still alive. The number of cats and dogs is unknown, but as of May 23, only 75 animals had been rescued from the evacuation zone. The rest have been forced to scrounge for what food, water and shelter they can find. Some have even been caught on video roaming the highly radioactive site of the nuclear power plant itself.

On May 10, the Japanese government eased the barricades, starting a rotation that would allow residents of certain villages to enter for two hours at a time, during which they may crate or tie up their animals outside so government officials can collect them. It is uncertain how quickly that will happen, and there is still no plan for the surviving farm animals.

With most of the animals now roaming free, many residents may not even be able to find their companions during their two-hour time allotment. Under the best of circumstances, Wolfe noted, the rotation process could still take several weeks, or even months, before all of the abandoned animals can be cared for. “The animals still surviving need immediate help,” Wolfe said. “They don’t have several weeks.”

While the Japanese government is working with local officials to get the community back on its feet, local and international rescuers are standing by to help the starving animals in the evacuation zone as soon as they are allowed in.

  • 0

    paulinusa

    Yes, people are a priority. That said, the government dropped the ball on this.

  • -3

    YuriOtani

    Why does this not surprise me? They have no compassion at all, zero, zip. If you would crate your pet it would starve to death waiting on these people. They should be ashamed of themselves. By the time they are let in the pets will mostly be dead. The Americans would never let this happen.

  • 0

    borscht

    When nuclear disaster struck Fukushima, Japanese officials had no contingency plan for evacuating animals.

    I think we can safely say that this sentence should have stopped after the word plan.

    they may crate or tie up their animals outside

    I'd prefer my animal to roam free in the hopes the animal could find food and water. If I tie or crate it up - and the government promises to pick it up - I'm pretty sure the animal will starve to death first. I'm thinking dogs and cats here, not carp or cattle.

  • 0

    Sasoriza

    Is there anything left to rescue?

  • -1

    tokyokawasaki

    Japan and animal welfare? That would be a first. As YuriOtani said: They have no compassion at all, zero, zip.

  • 0

    gogogo

    Die your pets up outside? good luck with a cat.

  • 1

    taj

    Who are these Johnny-come latelys? Anyone interested in animal rescue in Japan should look into JEARS.

  • 0

    taj

    And if you really care, Yuri, Paul, TokyoKawasaki, etc., you'll be donating to or volunteering to carry out rescues on behalf of JEARS.

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    Maybe the animals are attracted to Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant because it is a hum of human activity and the bento scraps are not bad.

  • 1

    nandakandamanda

    Last time they went in and rescued 75 dogs and cats, but of these only two were cats. The cats wouldn't allow themselves to be taken by strangers in funny clothing. Dogs more willing, means hungrier? Perhaps cats can find more to eat than dogs in the Japanese wild?

  • 1

    nandakandamanda

    And we have heard not a word about the real wild animals in that area, the bears, boar, foxes, raccoon dogs, etc.

  • 5

    TokyoTanuki

    My dog was rescued from a breeder that had abandoned his kennels in Fukushima. When he was rescued he hadn't eaten for 5 days and was suffering from a calcium defficiency, mange, worms and starvation. Even now , after 2.5 months of rehabilitation before we receieved him, he cannot walk very far on a leash, and is very 'greedy' for any food that drops near him, including his own business.. :-/

  • 1

    taj

    Good on you, Tanuki, for adopting your dog and congratulation on the addition to your family. I hope he will fully recover from the trauma in time.

  • 0

    cleo

    People were forced to leave quickly, and ordered to leave their animals behind

    That's one order I would not obey.

    And Yes, good on you TokyoTanuki. With the TLC he's now getting from you, I hope he makes a full recovery and has many years of happy frolicking by your side.

  • -4

    goddog

    Just thinking, but all those animals have been absorbing radiation all these months. So, do you want Fido to play ball with your little children at home? Put them out of their misery, but do not take them out of the zone.

  • 1

    nandakandamanda

    goddog, this was what the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors had to suffer. They were shunned because they had been irradiated.

  • 0

    goddog

    I know Nandaka. Lots of others do not realize that though.

  • 1

    cactusJack

    Japanese Constitution, Article 54, Section 22: Save pets before dolphin and whale.

  • 1

    nandakandamanda

    Do they believe that their owners will come back one day? (They did come back once, briefly, after all.) Does this belief hold them to to their villages?

    Would laying a trail of bait tempt them out of there? Are they faithfully protecting their owners' property? (Read dogs here.)

    Are some of their owners conversely hoping that they will protect their property with their lives? Tied up, they will bark at strangers... but they won't have lasted long. Freed and in packs, even Japanese dogs will surely turn wild and dangerous to anything single that strays into that area.

    The questions keep coming.

  • -1

    Zenny11

    My questions is how many of those pets are still alive and can they be retrained to live with humans again. Dogs maybe(but unlikely), cats and so on I truly doubt it.

    Truly feel for the pets left behind but trying to domesticate them again .......

  • 3

    BlueWitch

    **cleoJun. 17, 2011 - 11:24AM JST

    People were forced to leave quickly, and ordered to leave their animals behind
    

    That's one order I would not obey.**

    Agree with you on* that*.....There's no way I'm gonna obey that "order"..They'll have to tie me up and drag me down along with my cats.

  • 0

    saru_au

    People were forced to leave quickly, and ordered to leave their animals behind

    That's one order I would not obey

    cat or dog maybe , but it's harder to take some cows and pigs with you in a Kei-car.

    (although there is a horse riding in a car on youtube)

  • -1

    ihavegreatlegs

    Zenny, they do not lose domestication. That is inbred. They are doing it with foxes and wolves now too. Not genetically but by natural selection. That is what domestication is about. Selective breeding. But I have to agree with goddog here. Just like you cannot eat the cattle from there, you cannot also take out the pets. They are full of radiation. I would not want those pets in my house no matter how cute. They need to be found and put down humanely. I love dogs especially and have had lots of other pets, but you cannot bring irradiated animals back into society. RIP.. Put them down.

  • 1

    Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land

    @Legs

    you cannot bring irradiated animals back into society.

    I'm not a scientist, so I may be wrong on this, but I don't think any pets that absorbed radiation are then going to be radiating it themselves. I don't think it's like a disease where they would make their owners sick. The pets themselves will just get sick and die.

  • 1

    cleo

    They are full of radiation. I would not want those pets in my house

    If the people in Fukushima can be decontaminated, why can't the animals? Or do the people complaining about discrimination against people from Fukushima have it wrong? Do people who have received over a certain dose of radiation need to be kept out of society?

  • -1

    Zenny11

    Sorry, how did the "domesticated" that survived know how to hunt, etc when they never did it before? Your domestication is just a veneer over their real instincts and they go along with it as it is a situation that suits them because the don't know better as they are bred and raised in captivity.

    The animals can be decontaminated, getting them to trust humans again is a tougher task, ask anyone that took stray in.

  • 0

    YuriOtani

    taj, you do not know my personnel business. I am going to the mainland to help my cousins. The radiation does not scare me at all. It is so small I would die of old age before getting cancer. Problem is the authorities for our "safety" are keeping from helping. They know of the intensest suffering but do not care. In their minds wait a little longer and the problem will be solved. All of the domesticated animals will be dead. Oh they will remind people pets/farm animals are not burnable trash but sodai gomi which a fee needs to be paid to the city to dispose. Does not matter to them that they are directly responsible for the deaths. Hey I was only following orders and directives. I bear no responsibility for carrying out others orders, even if I know they are wrong.

  • 2

    BlueWitch

    YuriOtani Oh they will remind people pets/farm animals are not burnable trash but sodai gomi which a fee needs to be paid to the city to dispose.

    Yep, another "classic" from the corrupted/backward JapaneseGov't bureaucrats... Leaving the animals behind and not giving a rat's ass about it.

    Shameless and Cruel.

  • 0

    Wolfpack

    A group called JEARS.org is one organization that sprang up very quickly after the quake and tsunami hit and are doing great work. Other folks have also taken the initiative to help like Heidi's Operation Tomodachi http://heidisoperationtomodachi.com/ The activist groups are right - things are bad in the evacuation zone.

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