Japan Update: Gathering the World's Experts in Tokyo to Help Animals in the 'Hot Zone'

Six weeks have passed since that fateful day on March 11th when the earth and sea devastated much of the island nation of Japan. Six weeks but still, every day, we see news headlines on Japan, more often than not it’s about Fukushima and the nuclear crisis that continues to grip the nation.

I returned from an assessment trip to the impacted areas 3 weeks ago but now I’m starting to pack my suitcase again to head to Tokyo for a crucial meeting of radiation and animal experts.

On my last trip there I met with Dr. Toshio Mizoguchi, a veterinarian who heads the Fukushima Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Toshio showed us around his complex which had some, but not serious damage to its structure. His concern though was for the wildlife near the nuclear plant side, within that 20km exclusion area.

We talked about ways to monitor radiation in all animals (wildlife, companion and farm animals) in the ‘hot zone’. We wanted to know how the radiation would affect them and how to decontaminate and evacuate them to safer areas.

Also, well-intentioned groups and animal owners were starting to head into the danger zone to care for and sometimes bring contaminated animals out. We’ve seen this happen before but it brings about a very dangerous situation. Now we’re seeing that the Japanese government is taking aggressive steps to tighten up security around the evacuation zone perimeter.

So, during the meeting with our Japanese colleagues, a plan started to take shape. We realized that if we could get some of the world’s top subject matter experts together soon to talk about Fukushima and the animals that were left behind, we could come up with plan to help the animal owners and the government of Japan in dealing with some of the tough issues surrounding radiation exposure. This would no doubt have huge animal welfare importance not only for animals affected in Japan but for any similar situation in the future.

We feel that the best way for the International Fund for Animal Welfare to contribute to the recovery efforts was to form a panel of experts and bring them to Japan as soon as possible. Now, we have a summit planned for the 2-3 of May where 14 experts from Japan and the United States will convene to produce recommendations, procedures, and protocols for monitoring, evacuating, and decontaminating animals if necessary.

By removing pets that can be safely decontaminated from the evacuation zone and reuniting them with their families, we will see a significant reduction in the number of people risking their lives by attempting to re-enter the danger zone.

In those two full-on working days we will cover issues such as radiation exposure, animal physiology, animal behavior, animal rescue and evacuation techniques, animal decontamination, animal sheltering and husbandry, wildlife habitat and rehabilitation, and human responder safety.

Japan is going to have to make some very difficult decisions in the coming days.  A determination will need to be made very soon about the animals in close proximity to the nuclear station – especially now that access is being denied to the owners.  We do not want to see these animals suffer and there may come a time when the only humane answer is euthanasia.  But before making these kinds of decisions, our sincere hope is that the government will sit down with this group of experts to ensure that good animal welfare practices are taken into account when making these tough decisions.

Our panel of experts includes representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Environment, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United States Army Veterinary Corps, veterinary and toxicology experts, academicians, and IFAW.

Today, I re-visited one of the unbelievable videos of the tsunami slamming into Japan’s eastern coastline. It helps remind me of what this is all about. All those people and all those animals that were caught in the middle and how desperately they need our help now to deal with yet another disaster caused by the crippled nuclear plant.

--DG

For more information on this and how you can help go to www.ifaw.org today.

Comments: 18

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

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Anonymous
3 years ago

[...] zone’ around the Fukushima Power Plant in Japan. The week started off strong with members of the International Fund for Animal Welfare-led Committee handing over a comprehensive 10-page report to the Government of Japan detailing steps and [...]

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

unfortunately,this is the world we live,but fortunately there are people who care about the best for it!good luck!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

YOU ROCK!!!!!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

How soon after May 3 will the organized groups be able to help the animals? Hundreds have already died, being chained up and penned and unable to get water and food. Owners would go in and feed them and now they can't. That is a death sentence for the animals. The owners are crying and wailing and pleading for the rescue groups to go. It is so awful to see. These animals don't deserve to die this way. They feel pain, fear, confusion, hope, loss of hope, same as us. Please IFAW don't tarry. In one week, hundreds more will die. Act as soon as you can after May 3. You are an organization of hope for the world's animals. Please give us all and the animals HOPE!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I also saw shocking videos of animals starving to death! Cats trapped inside houses, dogs waiting for their owners to come back! It brakes my heart! Thank you so much for taking high risks to help these helpless victims! Thank you for your great compassion for animals!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I'm writing from Tokyo, Japan.

FOA, we really appreciate that your team has come over to save many animals, the inncocent victims of this awful earthquake/tsunami/nuke plant situaton. We also welcome the summit next week. Hope it would be a big help to save animals in both current/future emergencies.

There seems, however, no time left to save the numerous animals in need inside the evac area in Fukushima. Some vets talked with the ministry of the environment and were going to get there with officials tomorrow, but today Japanese gov (NISA) have forbiddened anyone but officials to get inside the area. So all the thing for tomorrow is just a "research" by officials - no feeding, no medical care. And no rescue of course...

It is the 5th day today since the area was designated to be off-limits. Just "one more day" takes so many lives of animals away. Pls pls urge Japan to let the vets and shelter staff get in there ASAP. This is a matter of life/death.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Every day I think about these poor animals, especially the pets, that got left behind in the exclusion zone. I see videos of beautiful Shiba Inus (Japan's national treasure?) and other family dogs just eating anything that rescue groups hand out to them. They are scruffy, dirty, and I ask myself, if the dogs and cats hope that each day may bring their family back, their owners back? It is heartbreaking and I can't imagine leaving my two dogs behind. For owners it is emotionally devastating and for the pets equally I am sure. Please save these pets and unite them with their owners. Both have already suffered enough by tsunami and earthquakes. Save the Japanese people and PLEASE save any remaining pets in the no go zone.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I respectfully ask that you do all you can to help the animals in the Exclusion Zone in Japan. The situation is dire. 25,000 soldier went in on Monday, and we have no news what they did. I am not against the destruction of those animals too far gone. However, there are a myriad of dogs and cats that are pets, many chained, penned up and dying or roaming free trying desperately to find food, weak, injured and failing. Waiting until May 3 to talk and who knows how long to act, just signs an agonizing death sentence for them. They didn't and don't deserve this. What happened that it took so long to act? There are a number of Animal Rescue Groups willing to go into the zone to help the animals and the Japanese government won't let them and won't help them. They have asked for entrance permits. Many people from many nations have petitioned for them to get permits. Not only that, a Japanese friend said the news stated that Prime Minister Kan has no interest in saving animals. That is heartless. There are places in the zone that are within acceptable radiation levels. I have also read that radiation does not affect animals like humans and much of it can be washed off their fur. PLEASE ACT QUICKLY. Waiting kills more. Thank you for all the work you do, all over the world. If any organization can make a difference, you can.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Thank you so much for all you do to help poor animals! My heart goes out to all animal owners who are trying to save their pets! I do not know what I would do in a situation like that but I know that I would do absolutely everything in my power to same as may animals as I can. I have two dogs, and I will do anything for them!

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