Leah Lessard Jeon, Global Animal
April 29, 2011 – (JAPAN ANIMAL RESCUE) – Both the Japanese federal government and Fukushima Prefecture officials announced new, but incomplete, action plans yesterday concerning the pets and farm animals left behind in the 20-kilometer radiation evacuation zone.
The Japanese Prime Minister announced that evacuees of Fukushima’s exclusion zone may return to the area for up to five hours. The visits will begin after the Golden Week holidays and continue through early May.
The five-hour limit is an improvement from last Thursday’s announcement of two-hour access, which also had numerous conditions attached. However, according to All Headline News, officials are still discussing whether people can take their pets out. (Please consider signing the letter below to the Prime Minister to allow evacuation of animals.)
As of Monday, the Fukushima Prefectural Government began taking custody of pets around Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, according to Mainichi News. The initiative is based on the Rabies Prevention Act and mainly covers stray and unconfined dogs. Whether to take chained dogs, cats and other animals will be decided by veterinarians after examining their health. A team of 11 workers, including seven veterinarians, are testing animals for radiation exposure on the spot.
The prefectural government says it will post information to identify pets on its website. Officials also said it will not kill the animals but will try to find new homes if their original guardians fail to show up during a certain period of time. Yesterday, the vets removed five dogs and one cat, all of whom had nearly non-existent radiation exposure levels. Let’s hope the efforts can ramp up significantly to pull many more pets from the approximately 12-mile zone.
Sadly, Fukushima officials have been culling farm animals who are said to be near death since last Thursday.
From All Headline News:
Fukushima officials started on Thursday to cull animals within the 20-km danger zone for public health reasons. The operations focused on the Minamisoma’s Odaka district, home to 887 cows, 80 horses, 6,200 pigs and 260,000 chickens as of October 2010.
The district was damaged badly by the tsunami triggered by the magnitude 9 earthquake on March 11. Officials said they will kill only the animals near death, but will still try to get the owners’ permission, if possible.
The evacuation zone remains officially closed to rescue groups. Animals within the 20 kilometer radius are clearly suffering and their guardians are asking for help to save their beloved pets. The video below, which was released yesterday by Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue & Support (JEARS), illustrates the critical need for large-scale rescue and aid for the animals left to perish in the evacuation zone. There is not a lot of time left.
Please raise your voice by being included in the letter to Japan’s Prime Minister, asking him to allow the remaining animals in the exclusion zone to be rescued. Donations made through Global Animal Foundation will go to animal organizations involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of pets and farm animals in the radiation zone. So far, Global Animal readers have donated more than $27,000 to Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue & Support to help the nation’s lost, injured, and abandoned animals.
The tears since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami have been shared tears; every rescue – and there have been many – have been shared victories. More of each are sure to follow. It is a collective hope of animal lovers worldwide that the upcoming days and government decisions will usher in bold and compassionate animal aid on the mass scale that’s urgently needed.