Dogs at Minami Soma, Fukushima Rescued by Japanese Volunteers
Japanese volunteers from a Sheltie Rescue, some in radiation suits, and others in only vinyl raincoats for protection ventured into the nuclear exclusion zone to rescue stray dogs left behind in the empty streets of the abandoned town, Minami Soma in the City of Fukushima, near the nuclear plant, who were still waiting for their owners to return.
Photos of the pack of Shelties wandering the abandoned streets were displayed on Asahi.com, the website of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper from which information regarding their whereabouts were obtained by Estimi Ogino, a 56 year old volunteer at an animal shelter in the Chiba prefecture. “My heart trembled. They looked just like my dog (13year old Kein) I started searching for them right away.” Estimi passed on the details to the Sheltie Rescue Team who had been receiving emails from dog lovers around the country about the abandoned pack.
The group contacted the Fukushima city branch of the Japan Collie Club, and via emails and internet research they were able to track down the owner, a breeder in Minami Soma. She was contacted by phone at a shelter and gave her go-ahead to rescue the dogs.
Seven volunteers left Tokyo early Sunday morning driving over wrecked roads and past ruined houses to meet three other volunteers in the ghost town that Minami Soma has become. Some had prepared radiation suits and others wore simple vinyl raincoats. The first two to arrive found the pack around the Odaka train station, near the owner’s home, where Associated Press writer Eric Talmadge and accompanying photographer Hiro Komae last saw the dogs in Minami Soma on April 7. The dogs had been left some dry food, and weren’t starving. It took a while to entice them with snacks, and six or seven were bundled into each car. The group saved 20 dogs in all.
They were reunited with their happy owner, who did not want to be identified, after being taken to a veterinary clinic in Kanagawa prefecture just west of Tokyo. Others are being cared for by individuals in other areas. But one volunteer Tamika Nakamura said that despite their best efforts there are still dogs out there also waiting for their owners, not yet rescued. Some of the dogs in the Sheltie pack ran away and countless others are still stranded in the evacuation zone. These they are concerned about and it is these the animal rescue team wish to return for.