Update from JEARS:
As we were driving through an abandoned area around Fukushima we saw a dog wandering down the street. Unsure of where he was headed we slowed down and stopped. He glanced over at us and continued on his way. We were close enough to notice a cut over his swollen eye and the scratches on his nose. His fur was also scuffed and the skin looked raw underneath. As we stopped and got out of the van he turned around and approached us, not in the least wary. After giving him some food and noticing that the vicinity was completely empty we leashed him and he jumped excitedly in the van. We named him Benji. Now we are all on our way to the shelter.
In the very beginning when it was first realized that there were animals left behind in the Exclusion Zone JEARS was hesitant to send anyone into the area. Over the course of weeks between the Tsunami and now they have decided that while it is a risk they will go into the area at the request of animal owner to pick up dogs and cat and other small creatures. The decision to enter the exclusion zone wasn’t made lightly, and JEARS Team members know the risks each time they go in search of animals needing rescue and owners needing support. The decision to admit this during a CNN interview also wasn’t made lightly. Speaking out can mean a different kind risk, but JEARS believes these are more than worth it for the likes of Benji and Koko.
The next day, Isabella of Animal Friends, Niigata, received a call from the Fukushima Prefecture police. “Are you going into the 20km radius?” he asked. “And I couldn’t lie,” said Isabella. “I’ve got to be honest, so I said yes.” Bracing herself for a stern warning at the very least, she instead received a request. Had the JEARS teams seen four police dogs – two Labradors and two German Shepherds? Left tied up in the yard of the officer’s house, they were gone when he returned to check on them. Could the teams keep an eye out for them? “Of course,” said Isabella. “Of course.”
Hopefully the police dogs found their way out of the Exclusion Zone weeks ago and have just been wandering around looking for their owner and handlers since. It would be horrible if they are found and are full of radiation or if it is found that someone took the dogs thinking they were doing the right thing when in fact they would have stolen police dogs. We can only hope for a good outcome for these 4 working dogs.