Z Notes Blog by Jim Zumwalt
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Pets in a Disaster

This dog was rescued from the evacuation zone in Fukushima Prefecture.

May 10 - Americans and Japanese share a love of our pets. Many of us keep dogs, cats and other pets in our homes. These beloved animals become a part of our families. I have been receiving many letters from people worried about the pets left behind in the evacuation zone around the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Some Japanese have even suggested that the American government rescue these left-behind animals.

Although we are very sympathetic to the plight of these pets, it is not possible for the U.S. government to go inside the evacuation zone to help rescue them. However, I did want to bring your attention to three non-government or non-profit organizations who are trying to help. The supporters of these organizations love animals and are trying their best to help.

One such local NPO is Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS), which is a joint effort between Tohoku-based Japan Cat Network, Animal Friends Niigata, and HEART-Tokushima. JEARS began sending pet rescue teams into the disaster zone almost immediately. They provide veterinary services, pet food, and rescue operations for stray pets. They also help find foster homes for pets that owners are unable to care for after the disaster. Please check out their webpage for more information.

Also, the Humane Society International works with Japanese responders and provides training on how to assist in the rescue of pets. They are even working with the Government of Japan to set up a decontamination center for pets.

Lastly, there is Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK) which has pledged to provide shelter for any pets that were affected by the earthquake. They also have animals ready for adoption. Please check out their webpage for more information.

For those of you who are concerned about the pets in the Fukushima evacuation zone, I encourage you to consider supporting these or other organizations who are trying to help.

Until next time,



I so appreciate your helping to call attention to the plight of the animals and the enormous volunteer efforts underway to help them. I've been following JEARS online and my family and I drove over to Niigata to deliver some things and to take a look at what was going on. The facility there was inspiring. These people are doing such good work. Thank you for supporting them.

(As a 26 year resident of Japan, only two of which have been cat-less, I am hopeful that at some point later on the issue of how to be more responsible pet owners will have it's day in Japan).

Thank you for acknowledging these organizations who have been helping our precious creatures from starving to death. May I add that Kinship Circle have worked closely with JEARS from the very beginning and have been a significant help.

Please continue to do what you can to bring awareness and exposure to the horrific and continuing suffering of our precious creatures.

It has been difficult following the unfolding stories of the animals in Japan when one is far away (all one could do is sign petition, donate and send care packages).

Thank you for your compassion!

Thank you for bringing attention to the plight of those who left farm animals and pets behind in the exclusion zone. It is very sad to hear that people are finally being let back in to check on things weeks after they closed it off, only to find that the animals they have left behind have come close to starving or have starved to death. It is a sad fate that I wouldn't even wish on my worst enemy. Please continue to bring this up to the Japanese government and let them know that the world is watching. Again, thanks for your compassion.

I recommend ARK. They're really good.

Dear Mr. Zumwalt:

Thank you very much for your kind comment and reference to the 3 NPO organizations who may be able to aid in the rescue of the pets left behind within the 20km restricted zone in Fukushima.

I know for a fact that there were many Japanese animal rescue teams (some NPO, some private individuals) who were entering the areas to rescue and/or feed the abandoned pets. Many had already died of starvation but the various rescue teams and individuals were successfully trying to rescue as many animals as possible.

However, this came to a halt on 4/22/11 when the Japanese Gov't put a tight restriction on the 20km zone, forbidding any individual from entering the area. Since then, the animals who were still alive were left abandoned again - without water, food, or any form of human help.

We the citizens of Japan have been pleaing with the Japanese Gov't to permit the animal rescue teams to enter the restricted zone - only to help the animals who still can be saved.

I understand that there is only so much that the U.S. Gov't can do to intervene - and yet, we are asking for your help to please try to convince the Japanese Gov't to "act" ASAP to save the pets left behind in the restricted zone. It is just plain inhumane and cruel to let the animals knowingly die of starvation.

I beg of you to please try to convince the Japanese Government to listen to our plea to have the various animal rescue teams help in saving the animals.

Thank you in advance.

Many thanks for your comments. I posted this article about pets in order to highlight the wonderful contributions of these NGOs. This is a very difficult issue for the Japanese Government since they are trying to protect people from harm even as they try to resolve issues about livestock and pets inside the evacuation zone like this one.

Thank you for posting our comments and responding. It is greatly appreciated to be heard. Again, I plead that the US. Govt. do what it can to save the animals and perhaps ease some of unspeakable horrors that Japanese peole are going through. I look at my pet, my cherished companion--I cannot imagine leaving him to starve and die ... I would rather die.

Thank you and Bless you for listening.

Hello from NY! I am updating various news on the Japanese animals in the disaster area in English for English speaking rescues such as JEARS and Kiship Circle for them to get the same information as other Japanese rescues. And somebody posted this blog on the FB page. This, unfortunately, include a simple but critical mistake. JEARS and ARK are NPOs, not NGOs. NGOs are like Japan SPCA (Nippon SPCA is an NPOs) and JAWS. NGOs and NPOs differs very much esp. this disaster. Headquarters for the Relief of ANimals in Disaster (HRAD) is activated at a disaster time by the government, and it has been activated this time as well. 4 NGOs, Japan SPCA, JAWS, Japan Vet Assoc. form HRAD. Please make sure you put the correct information because NGOs and NPOs are very different in nature. Thank you

Many thanks for pointing this out. We made the correction.

While I understand the US government is unable to directly intervene, you could direct the Japanese government to the evacuation plan established by veterinarians & scientists thru the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) in Japanese or in English. A little encouragement never hurt anyone! Thanks!

I am a vet who runs a pet food company. I have been supporting JEARS to feed rescued animals in affected area in Tohoku. I really would like to offer real safe pet food without 4D meat to pity animals that lost their homes. A volunteer driver from the US Embassy kindly conveyed our donated foods to JEAS base in Niigata from our warehouse in March and April. I truly appreciate his effort. He was so nice.

My company handles only Flint River Ranch Pet Food. I have been importing them from US. Soon after my first donation to JEARS, I reported that to Flint River Ranch US. Very fortunately, the president of the company was very much touched and promised me to offer several pallets of Dog&Cat Food to JEARS's activities. What a generosity! I am very proud of being a owner of the Flint River Ranch Pet Food Specialty Shop in Japan.

The ocean freight cargo will arrive late June. I am looking for a volunteer driver who can kindly convey our food to Niigata JEARS base.

Can US Embassy help me to send pet foods to JEARS again?

Thank you.

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