The Hachiko Coalition calls attention to the plight of pets left inside the evacuation zone in Japan. To follow the most recent developments of this ongoing emergency, please visit the Hachiko Coalition website.
On April 21, the Japanese government decided to begin enforcing a "no-go" policy within the 20km radiation evacuation zone inside Fukushima Prefecture. This decision prevents access inside this zone by private Animal Search and Rescue (SAR) teams who were previously evacuating domesticated animals inside the zone.
Estimates provided by the Fukushima Prefecture government place the number of registered dogs within the nine municipalities under evacuation orders at more than 5800. This figure does not include the many cats or unregistered dogs. Other local animal welfare groups have placed this estimate closer to 10,000 dogs. Many of these animals were left at home when the evacuation took place.
In a video dated April 28th created by Global Animal Magazine, footage clearly shows the situation is deteriorating. Signs have been posted on the edge of towns that read: "There are dogs and cats near here, please someone feed them."
In a stunning example of selfless action, yet another video shows a family who re-entered the zone attempting to rescue and feed animals while also recovering the dead. Mr. Hosti, who obtained the video footage, reported the radiation levels in that location were 70-90?Sv/h.
In a message posted to Facebook, Hosti also stated: "The government deserted the animals. Animal[s] dies if there is no food. We violated the law, invaded, and helped the dog[s]. However, a lot of animals are left. These are animals sacrificed in [sic] the Fukushima nuclear power plant."
These pleas for help are surreal, however evacuation of the domesticated animals was being conducted by trained Animal Search and Rescue (A-SAR) teams and can continue safely if the government simply allows it.
The Hachiko Coalition requests that the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) act now to evacuate these animals. Furthermore, TEPCO should also immediately release disaster response funding from their insurance pools to the impacted prefectures for the use of animal evacuation.
Recently, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has convened a conference of international radiation experts and other representatives including: Japanese Ministry of Environment, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): APHIS Animal Care and Wildlife Services, United States Army Veterinary Corps, veterinary and toxicology experts, academics, and IFAW .
While this conference may result in a new measures being taken to evacuate the animals, the Japanese government must allow these measures to be implemented. The Hachiko Coalition is calling for the organized, and immediate evacuation of all uncontaminated domestic animals and livestock inside the exclusion zone.
You can make a difference. Take a moment, right now, and show your support by spreading the word to family, friends, by Facebook, blogs, emails to decision making officials. Take action and speak up for the animals who can't speak for themselves!
Vicki Shigekuni Wong
I first spotted Hachiko's statue many years ago at Shibuya Station. Upon returning home, I adopted a dog and named him Hachi. When he passed away, I missed his reflective, welcoming and calm ways. We can all learn from the innate emotional grace of our animal friends and the Way of Hachi. I love sharing the story of the loyal dog of Japan, and hope he inspires more people to "Be Hachi"!