Amanda Powell, a military spouse from Yokosuka checks on her dog, Tank, outside the Enlisted Club at Yokota Air Base on Tuesday, as she and other military families await their flight out of Japan as concerns grow over the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan. (Grant Okubo/Stars and Stripes)

In the midst of the tsunami aftermath, many people in Japan are leaving the country.  Due to airline regulations and limited space, traveling with pets may pose significant challenges.  Read on… – Global Animal

Stars and Stripes, Jeff Schogol

Ever since eligible military families were allowed to leave Japan, one question has kept popping up: Can they take pets? The answer so far has been a qualified yes, but no more than two pets are permitted per family.

Travelers are also limited to two bags, each of which can weigh up to 70 pounds, and that has given birth to a rumor that the pets’ weights count toward that maximum weight threshold. Do families have to decide whether to take their luggage or pets with them?

Not according to a spokesman for U.S. Forces Japan.

“Pets requiring a pet carrier do not impact the luggage authorization (2 per person at 70 lbs each.),” Marine Master Sgt. Donald E. Preston said in an email to The Rumor Doctor.

That should come to a relief to families with four-legged, furry friends, but keep in mind there is also a caveat.

“Space for pets on a particular flight may be limited and may delay travel of some personnel until a plane with sufficient pet capacity is available,” according to information provided by USFJ.

Yokosuka Naval Base officials announced Wednesday that flights were not taking pets until further notice due to a backlog of pets that need to be processed.

And there’s another catch. Only cats and dogs are eligible to travel on military flights.

“Horses, fish, birds, and rodents are not authorized transportation,” according to USFJ.

Families can opt to ship pets separately, but they will have to pay for it themselves, Preston said.

But with thousands of military families trying to get out of Japan, some are simply abandoning their pets.  Yokosuka has seen a spike in abandoned pets as people have left, Stars and Stripes reporter Erik Slavin reported.

“I’m now up to three turtles, two ferrets and a python, in addition to all the other cats and dogs we’ve been finding,” Capt.  David Owen, Yokosuka commander, said in broadcast message Tuesday on the base command channel.

THE RUMOR DOCTOR’S DIAGNOSIS:  The weight limitation on luggage does not include pets, but taking your pets can make it take longer to get out of Japan. Still, there’s no excuse to abandon an animal. If you do leave your pets behind, here is the Facebook page for Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support, a no-kill coalition of rescue organizations.