A woman holding her dog reacts after evacuating following a tsunami warning in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the country’s east coast.
Japan’s forgotten victims: pets
The people of Japan are not the only ones suffering because of the disaster. Many pets have been separated from their families and forced to fend for themselves. The lucky ones are in shelters.
“This is a big calamity for pets, along with people,” said Sugano Hoso of the Japan branch of the U.S.-based United Kennel Club. “Many are on their own, and many more are trapped in evacuated areas where people have left.”
The biggest concerns are reuniting them (pets) with their owners and getting them food, medical treatment and shelter.
Akane Ho embraces her dog Mei at an evacuation center in Natori near Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, Japan, Friday, March 18, 2011. Mei was returned to her today, seven days after she went missing following the earthquake triggered tsunami on March 11.
Thousands of pets have been left behind in evacuation zones affected by radiation from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility, which was swamped by the tsunami and remains unstable. Those animals also face radiation-related issues
“Evacuees are under a stressful situation, working on reconstruction and searching for missing family members,” Ryo Taira said. “I think they cannot really have much energy to pay attention to their pets. So we want to do what we can to help reduce their stress.” Ryo Taira’s pet shop and animal shelter in Arahama, near the city of Sendai, is caring for 80 dogs and cats whose owners are unable to bring their pets with them to tsunami shelters.