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Wednesday, 5th October 2011
In General Japan News,

Animal rescuers battle against pets' plight in Fukushima

Animal rescuers in the Fukushima prefecture have been battling the odds to reunite abandoned pets with their owners following the triple tragedies of March 11th this year.

Nancy Gothard, president of the Hachiko Coalition (HC), revealed an increasing number of pets left homeless after the disaster were forced to the streets after animal shelters hit full capacity.

The HC was created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katerina to aid US Air Forces in civilian emergency evacuations.

A branch of the organisation was set up to reunite pets with their owners after they were adopted outside New Orleans following the crisis.

After Fukushima was hit by devastation, the organisation regrouped to take similar action in Japan, focusing much of its attention on raising awareness for pets and animals left suffering in the TEPCO radioactive exclusion zone.

Before the earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck, there were an estimated 5,800 dogs in the prefecture, the Yomiuri Daily revealed.

Last month it was reported there was a subsequent surge in feral dogs in the zone that had been abandoned after the tragedy.

However, Nancy Gothard strongly disputes this claim. "We have rescuers on the ground right now, and this is not their experience whatsoever. They are not feral, they are pets, who have been fending for themselves for the last six months."

Charles Harmison, a rescuer and field investigator who works closely alongside the HC, endeavours everyday to seek out these suffering pets and bring them back to their loving families.

The expert has come across thousands of animals in need of medical attention but has yet to spot any feral behaviour.

Mr Harmison has managed to reunite an abundance of pets with their rightful owners and has already rescued 400 animals, with hopes to help many more.

Ms Gothard said: "We are hoping the Government of Japan will open the zone to the animal rescuers so a mass rescue can take place.

"We have asked supporters to please donate to Charles directly at this point as he needs it most."

Lonely and abandoned animals have been battling starvation, dehydration and injuries incurred over the six month period and rescuers are striving to find them before their grievances end their lives.

When Mr Harmison finds animals in need that have no identified owner, he brings them back to Animal Friends Niigata.

The rescuer works from a long list of evacuees missing their pets, who have provided him with detailed descriptions to aid his efforts.

The HC is in need of donations that will go towards creating new shelters for animals left destitute in the wake of the Japanese tragedy.

It has an alliance with Vicki Wong, producer of Hachi: A Dogs Tale, who is also campaigning to raise awareness for the unfortunate pets.

Posted by Susan Ballion

Related news stories:
Fukushima avoids tsunami after 7.4-magnitude quake (22nd November 2016)
Draft bill issued to overcome future disasters (6th October 2011)
Government ban on Fukushima food widened (23rd March 2011)