Here is a translated article which appeared today on Asahi Newspaper.
(original link: http://www.asahi.com/special/10005/TKY201105090621.html)
Pet rescue works by the Ministry of Environment and local government officially started today. Evacuees are returning home in the no-go zone which is situated 20km distance from Fukushima No1 nuclear power plant starting today, May 10. Upon returning, they are requested to keep their pets tied in the garden and town officials will bring them out of the area the next day.
It has been more than 2 weeks since the area became completely closed for entry. It’s unknown how many pets are still alive.
According to the Ministry of Environment, ‘pets’ here basically means dogs and cats. For other types of animals, it wants to consider to be flexible. The evacuees are not allowed to bring back their pets together today, and they are asked to apply for ‘pet rescue’ after they return home from the temporal visits, together with information on where these pets are kept.
After taking them back from the area, they will be screened for radiation and go through health check-up conducted by vets. If amount of radiation is high, wet tissues are used to clean them. If these pets can not be taken care by their owners at shelters, the prefecture will take care of them until they can at no charge.
According to the ministry, more than 5,800 dogs were registered in the no-go zone and they don’t know how many dogs are still left in the area. A number of cats is unknown.
After the nuclear accident, many owners and animal rescue organizations went inside the 20km zone to feed these pets, but since May 22, this hasn’t been possible. There are couple of tens of phone calls to the ministry everyday asking for pet rescue. In this extreme situation, the ministry says ‘we doesn’t know how many pets are still alive’.
If pets are found dead when the evacuees return home temporarily, the bodies will not be collected. They explain, ‘Since we still don’t know what to do with debris that are polluted with radiation yet, we can’t take them out of the area and there is also an issue of hygiene.’
On the other hand, Okuma-Town, a town where the Fukushima No1 nuclear power plant stands, will be feeding these pets that are left alone by itself (without a help from the ministry). A town official says, ‘many residents in the town (who are now evacuees) are strongly requesting us to do so.’
Incidentally, Fuji TV reported today that pets will be taken out of the area today and tomorrow. Another article I found said ‘pets will be taken out of the area today, since the number of evacuees returning home today is not very many (92 people, 54 homes) that they want to take care of the issue flexibly.
I’m very curious to know the outcome of such ‘rescue’ after today.
UPDATE: 21 special-bred pigs (livestock) will be also removed from the area today.