The Fukushima prefectural government and the Environment Ministry in Japan have been trying to capture hundreds of dogs still believed to be living in the 20 kilometer no-entry zone around Fukushima. Information has now been made available of how many registered dogs 5,800 were living in the Fukushima area before the March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami which damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
From May 10 to the end of August, the prefectural government captured a total of 323 pets, mainly dogs, that were still hanging around the empty houses of their owners who had to leave them behind. The government began trying to capture wandering dogs on Sept. 5 but has only managed to captured three even with traps baited with food and other measures to attract the dogs. A number of dogs that were retrieved by owners within the days and weeks after they were evacuated and volunteers were able to rescue dogs as well during that time. Authorities know many dogs and other pets died in the Tsunami itself and from other causes including diseases and starvation since the disaster. Even still authorities believe that hundreds of dogs are living in packs within the no entry zone surviving on their own with no human contact.
Experts believe that they are going to be on the verge of a wild dog problem if they cannot get the puppies who have been born in the six month since the Tsunami and have had very little contact with humans out of the no entry zone before they reach maturity and start to have puppies of their own. Authorities are very worried that a second generation of puppies born that have not been raised around people will create a huge problem for surrounding areas if the dogs get out. Plus the puppies born since the no entry zone has been put in place have not been vaccinated and will not be able to pass on any sort of immunization against deadly diseases to their offspring like their own mothers could.
The dogs living in the zone are now skittish of people and run away when authorities get near to try and catch them and bring them to the makeshift shelter that has been created. A warehouse in Fukushima is the emergency home to about 150 captured dogs. Most of the dogs’ owners now live in temporary accommodation units or hastily build governmental apartments that do not allow pets and so there are no prospects of them collecting the dogs anytime soon. The local government said it plans to establish a more long term shelter for dogs taken from the no entry zone, but the budget is tight and no new funds have been secured in months in order to help pay for the costs associate with housing and caring for the dogs.
It is difficult to secure money for the care of pets taken from the no entry zone. The people who lost everything in the Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11th take priority according to Japanese officials.Local authorities however are aware that pets provide support for people especially their owners and think this is an important part of the rebuilding process to reunite the pets and owners at least if there was a friendly place where the families could visit their pets that would be progress in the right direction.
There is however a glimmer of hope. The Chikura temporary housing units in Kashima Ward, are exclusively for pet-owners. About 300 people from 80 households live in the Chikura units. For these families, it is a great emotional support to live with their cherished dogs and cats again. To stay in the units, residents must observe several rules: Keep pets inside; attach a tag to each pet with the owner’s name and contact address; and make sure dogs are vaccinated against rabies.