Great Eastern Japan Earthquake & Tsunami/Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident
One month has passed since the March 11 earthquake that hit the northeastern part of Japan and crippled the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The plant workers’ battle to prevent a worst-case scenario is still very far from over and an extensive area around the plant has been exposed to radioactive contamination.
At the press conference held today, the Japanese government announced that it would make the area currently set as a voluntarily evacuation zone into a no-entry zone. The government also said that that it would expand the evacuation zone beyond the present 20km radius.
We are sending the following request and proposal letter to government bodies and officials concerning the abandoned animals and livestock in the disaster areas.
A weakening and hungy dog, waiting for the owner to come back.
A dog found some food to survive alone.
Petition Requesting that Adequate Care be Provided for Companion Animals in the Vicinity of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
April 11, 2011
The Director General for Disaster Management, Cabinet Office
The Director General for Disaster Management, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
The Animal Welfare and Management Office
The Japanese Animal Disaster Response Team
Members of the Diet
The plan for animal rescue in disasters includes a section concerning animal management and hygiene control. After the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident, the evacuees didn’t expect the evacuation period to last this long, so in many cases they have left companion animals or livestock inside the affected areas. As they are staying at shelters for longer and longer, some evacuees often return home to feed and check on their pets, but others are unable to do so. The pet animals that are apart from their owners have turned into strays. The livestock that have not been fed are slowly dying of starvation. Once the evacuation becomes mandatory, how we deal with companion animal issues will be of major importance. There are also families who have taken their pets with them to the shelters and are having difficulties there.
There is an urgent need for a coherent set of measures to address companion animal issues. We urge the relevant governmental bodies/organizations to take immediate action to resolve these issues.
1. Abandoned companion animals
At this point, nobody knows how long the evacuation may last. There are many evacuees who have left their companion animals behind, assuming they would be able to return home soon. Some of the animals are chained, so they don’t have access to water or food. Others are wandering about foraging for food and becoming strays in the process. They are hungry. They are losing physical strength and are slowly dying of starvation. In addition, many of these animals are not spayed or neutered, so the population of strays can be expected to increase in the near future. There is also concern about public hygiene.
Temporarily foster abandoned dogs and cats.
The Headquarters for Disaster Control should advise evacuees who have left their pet animals behind and are periodically returning home to feed them to bring their pets to the shelters. If some evacuees cannot do so for various reasons, then please advise them to contact their local animal administration office. We would also like to ask the Police, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency and the Self-Defense Forces, if possible, to give water or food to the animals that are wandering around in the disaster areas. Volunteer veterinarians and animal groups should accompany them when they help these animals.
We would like to ask you to please give the volunteers special permission to take in abandoned animals. (Pet animals are the possessions of their owners, so information concerning the animals that are taken away from the disaster areas must be made available to the public. This information should include the health condition and rescue location of each individual, so that the owners can identify their pets.)
2. Abandoned livestock
There are a lot of Wagyu beef and other livestock farms in the areas near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Some cattle were released so that they can walk around to obtain food and water, but some cattle are still chained and left in disaster areas that are also contaminated with high levels of radioactive materials. These animals are slowly dying without the freedom to move around to obtain food or water.
Check up on the current situation of the livestock and feed these animals
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries can locate the cattle, horse, pig and chicken farms from the local government lists of farmers. It is possible to identify the locations of the farms and to immediately go and check on the current situation of the livestock. As of April 6, some chickens and cows have been observed to still be alive. Please give special permission for veterinarians and animal protection organizations/groups to enter the exclusion zones to feed and provide water to the livestock. We would also like to ask you to find other farms that can take in abandoned livestock.
3. Pet problems at shelters
Some shelters do not accept animals, so evacuees with pets have to stay in their cars or move to shelters where animals are also allowed to stay. Some public housing has been opened for the evacuees as temporary accommodation but in many cases pets are not allowed. As a result, there are families that have unwillingly given up their companion animals. Moreover, it is not certain whether pets will be accepted at the temporary housing units that are currently being constructed. .
Ascertain the current situation and provide support at shelters
The shelters are located in different areas, so it is difficult to ascertain the situation concerning pets. We would like to ask the Ministry of the Environment to appoint responsible personnel for pet issues and to conduct a hearing survey to ascertain the situation. Once the responsible animal personnel work out the requirements of the evacuees’ family pets, they can contact Japan’s Animal Disaster Response Team for the necessary items. Please also talk with the local governments and consider accepting pets at temporary evacuation centers and in public housing units.
4.A serious lack of manpower
Some local government officials in the areas hit by Tohoku-Kanto earthquake and tsunami were also victims of the disaster. Rescuing people is the first priority, so rescuing animals tends to be put to one side. As manpower and networks are seriously lacking, when discussing measures, please include how to get more people to help improve the situation.
Hire and place temporary special animal staff
Special staff who are knowledgeable about animals need to be placed in the field. The Animal Disaster Response Team should hire temporary workers and send them to the disaster areas. Remuneration should be paid from the donations the team has received. Sufficient relief supplies have now been gathered, so next please put more finance into manpower.
Non Profit Organizaition: All Life In a Viable Environment (Chikyu Seibutsu Kaigi)
Kanagawa Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Devastated Animal Protection Investigation Team