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The Dog Survivers Of Japan Face Post-Tsunami Struggle

A Man and his dog walk through the wreckage
A Man and his dog walk through the wreckage caused by the Tsunami. Photo by Nicholas Kamm

They’re hungry, hurt and separated from owners who are either dead or in evacuation centers.

They’re the hundreds of dogs who are struggling to survive amidst the desolation of Japan’s tsunami-ravaged northeast coast.

Among the many rescue teams sent from around the world to search for survivors and bodies after Japan’s worst natural disaster for nearly a century, a handful of specialized animal rescue groups have also been at work.

In the days immediately after the March 11 tsunami that wiped out dozens of thriving coastal towns, the prospects looked grim.

“In the hardest hit areas, we saw no animal life whatsoever,” said Ashley Fruno, from animal rights group PETA.

“We did see some paw prints in the mud at one point, but they didn’t lead anywhere, and we could not find any animals nearby.”

Slowly but surely, however, abandoned pets have begun to emerge, often from damaged homes where they had managed to ride out the destructive force of the tsunami.

Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS), a hastily assembled coalition of animal welfare groups, has been providing food and treatment for injured animals and has also been trying to find temporary shelters for those that have lost their owners.

According to Isabella Gallaon-Aoki of JEARS, there have also been cases of people choosing to stay in their ruined houses because shelters refused to accommodate pets.

“People here see pets as family members. For some, after everything that has happened, their pet is the only thing they can cling on to — the only thing that brings them comfort,” she said.

Timo Takazawa and her husband are two of those people. They and their dog Momo survived the tsunami and are now living in a shelter. And though there are complaints about the dog from other evacuees in their crowded shelter in the city of Sendai, Timo says, “I can’t imagine not being here together. If anybody said to me I couldn’t keep Momo here, we would leave with her, we would go somewhere else.”

Story By Elaine Furst For Dog Files

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Junamiller2002
Junamiller2002
11 years ago

It is sad, that a pet is only a pet while life is good.
I would be out there looking for my pet until I found them.
I understand that if the pet owner did not make it.
BUT…where are the rescuers? Life is life. If they are alive, they are alive.
What can we do? What is needed to also help those who don’t ask for much?

Drewolfscoute
Drewolfscoute
11 years ago

SO TRUE JUNA,AND ALL SO SAD.I WOULD BE LOOKING TOO.EVERYTHING ALIVE SHOULD BE RESCUED.THEY WERE CREATED TO BE ALIVE AND CARED FOR,DONT ASK FOR MUCH BUT WILL GIVE BACK PLENTY-AND UNCONDITIONALLY!

Nadia
Nadia
11 years ago

Would you ever leave a family member behind under any circumstance? Then why on earth would some choose to leave behind their helpless pets?

NORMA
NORMA
11 years ago

MY DOG IS MY BABY ! I WOULD NEVER LEAVE HER IF I HAD TO DIE WITH HER. MY HUSBAND & I ADOPTED HER JUST AS WE WOULD HAVE ADOPTED A BABY. YOU WOULDN’T LEAVE YOUR BABY. DOGS GIVE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE & WOULD STAY WITH YOU ! I WOULD TAKE IN ALL DOGS IF I COULD, BUT WE ALL KNOW THAT IS NOT REALISTIC ! MY HEART HURTS FOR THEN THOUGH !

Rivll
Rivll
11 years ago

I understand your sentiments but the people are struggling with trauma and shock and it may be all they can do to keep alive. I think the real issue is that people have to live in dangerous conditions because the shelters won’t take them in with their pets. The rescue shelters need to accomadate people with their pets.

Grace Divine
Grace Divine
11 years ago

The government of Japan is showing tremendous lack of compassion by not rescuing the animals left behind after the tsunami! Lets pray they don’t make a tragic situation into something worse and regrettable by not rescuing these animals.
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