Government-Approved Pet Rescue Project From Inside Fukushima No-Go Zone – July 22

July 22, 2011

According to one of the vets who participated in the last weekend rescue effort, VAFFA has actually rescued 27 dogs and 22 cats in total. The next two missions are now scheduled to take place on August 5-7 and August 19-21.

It appears that some volunteers’s ideas of rescuing dogs and cats or their behaviors were not what VAFFA appreciated or expected. As it’s under the surveillance of the government, VAFFA needed to follow certain rules. Some volunteers didn’t act professionally, such as going inside evacuees’ houses in shoes, which is a taboo in Japan, and opening shelves and drawers in someone’s houses or trying to ‘rescue’ a dog that was not supposed to be removed as the owner had his way of having the dog fed (he may be going inside the zone himself?)

As the government isn’t doing the way the people of Japan want them to, things that should be done are: 1) to continue writing letters to the Kan prime minister, 2) VAFFA continues its missions, 3) other rescue groups sneak inside the zone without the permit and continue rescuing the animals, and 4) ordinary people like us send in financial/food donations to organizations that help these animals.

July 21, 2011

So, why did 15 vets and 35 volunteers managed to rescue only 15 cats and 5 dogs on a 2-day mission? VAFFA says that it was meant to find and rescue those  that were requested by the pet owners, those animals that couldn’t be found at home when they returned back for a 2-hour visit.  However, we all remember VAFFA initially said the mission was to rescue whatever roaming dogs and cats they would find on the street… ?

According to VAFFA, there were ‘inexperienced volunteers’ whose ideas of rescuing animals were not in line with that of their’s. Whatever the reason, things are rather vague about what really happened, I haven’t found any clear or understandable explanation of why they were not able to rescue more than 20 dogs and cats. It is very obvious to everyone, who has been following the stories and news or who have been rescuing these lonely dogs and cats, that the number ’20’ is an extremely disappointing figure.

From reading various sources, there is also a story that some vets didn’t treat the volunteers right. It looks a bit of drama going on there.

Many NGOs and individuals are upset and that there are more voices that they would not trust any govrenment-related efforts in helping out these left-alone pets inside the 20km no-go zone.

VAFFA announced just yesterday that they will be carrying out the second mission as soon as the second shelter is ready to accept animals, hopefully in the beginning of August. They are accepting applications from vets who wants to join this mission.

Let’s see what they have learnt from this mission and I’m counting on them,  please don’t let us down! I’m sure Mr. Natsuhori, a vet who is leading this mission, is determined to work things out next time.

July 17, 2011

Weather in Fukushima: 35 c, very hot!
The rescue finished at 12 noon so they could spend their afternoon to thoroughly examine dogs and cats they rescued yesterday, including giving vaccination.

Result of the rescue on July 17: None

Of course, some NPOs and individuals are questioning why 50 people could only rescue 20 animals. There must be some good reasons for this, as the leader of the project is known to be a vet who really cares about animals.


July 16, 2011
About 3 weeks ago, the Japanese government announced that they would expand the scale of rescuing dogs and cats from within the Fukushima nuclear no-go zone, for fear of dogs turning into wild as well as for hygienic reason.

This project is led by VAFFA (Veterinary Association For Fukushima Animals). 50 vets and volunteers were divided into 15 groups, with each in 2 cars, and headed inside the danger zone for the first time today, July 16, 2011.

The rescue schedule was from 09:30-13:00 and 14:00-16:00 and the screening time was set at 17:00

The hottest temperature in Fukushima on July 16, 2011: 28c (82.4F)

RESULT of the first day: 5 dogs and 15 cats were rescued.
The radiatoin level for dogs showed higher in the screening test more than that of the cats, but they were all within the ok range and didn’t require cleaning. None of them got hurt and today’s activity ended safely.

Why not many were rescued? Many individuals who sneak inside the zone to rescue dogs and cats have been saying that because the weather is so hot lately, they are not in their sight during the day time, and as soon as the sun sets they start to appear. However, today’s temperature is not too high I would say…

The next mission is happening tomorrow and the members are meeting up earlier than today at 4:30 am.


13 responses to “Government-Approved Pet Rescue Project From Inside Fukushima No-Go Zone – July 22

  1. I feel I want to say something….but all I can do is shake my head at this point…Sunday = none ? *sigh*

  2. So why the government waited this long to decide to rescue the pets left behind? To see the impact of radiation on these abandoned animals that have been exposed to radiation for past 4 months? Is that why the government didn’t allow people to evacuate with their pets and the farm animals? We hope this doesn’t happen again to Japanese people. All life is equal.

  3. I heard from one of the groups who participated in the July 16.-17. rescue mission: in the area they were told to cover, they encountered only 1 dog during the 8 hrs they were permitted to be in the 20 km zone during those 2 days. It is not like the dogs and cats are sitting by the road waiting to be picked up.

  4. @PepiSmartDog: Yes, it’s disgraceful!!

    @Anonymous: JAFFA efforts is actually not by the government. It’s just that this group was the first one to obtain ‘permit’ from the government for rescuing dogs and cat. The government is not really helpful about this issue. Right now, after it’s known that cows that were sold for meat from Fukushima even outside the 20km zone are contaminated with radiation, the government is stepping up to cull them apparently. They just don’t seem to care really.

    @Margi: yes, I also heard from one of the volunteers that the vets led the groups to areas where no dogs and cats can be found anymore. I guess they wanted to make sure that is really the case?, but why didn’t they start from areas where accessing is not easy??

  5. After leaving my comment, I realized it didn’t make sense to call this post ‘Government’s Extra Pet Rescue….’. So I modified the title. Sorry for the confusion.

  6. Apparently those safe cows raised by the farmers outside way away from Fukushima plant area were contaminated because of contaminated hays. The straws grown in safe zone area didn’t turned out to be safe. Radiation got shifted around with wind, clouds and rain into safe zone from Fukushima plant.

  7. That’s right, those cows were consuming contaminated hays… Some farmers were apologizing for what happened when it came out about 10 days or so ago!! Why, it’s not their fault really, the government should have challenged this issue by providing them with clean hays or buy the cows off from the farmers immediately for humans’ consumption (FYI, I don’t eat meat…). Now the government is buying them off from the farmers and cull them. Didn’t everyone know that radiation particles can be spread to a bigger area?
    I posted one time about a farmer who committed suicide before, but in fact there have been more than 5 who killed themselves for not knowing how to make living anymore. The government isn’t helping or protecting them. There is also an issue about evacuees being discriminated or kids being bullied in school in areas where they have moved to, in hope of starting a new life. It wasn’t their fault.

  8. Hi voicingonbehalf, this article is about what’s happening when volunteers were rescuing animals with Gov’t vets’ team inside the no-go-zone. I’m wondering if someone could reveal these horrible facts to the people in Japan. I believe everyone in Japan has right to know the truth. Thanks.
    “The TRUTH About the Government Rescues in Japan – As Told by Last Chance for Animalsby The Hachiko Coalition Page on Friday, July 22, 2011 at 4:26am
    Charles Harmison from Last Chance for Animals not only rescued 365 animals in Japan, but he is a well known Animal Welfare Investigator back home. We have always had a high respect for LCA. They believe the people deserve the truth. Here are the words of Charles Harmison, we thank him as always for his bravery and ethics.
    Saturday July 16th, we were invited to take part in a huge mission into the 20km zone with 18 other cars and between 40 & 50 people including 10 veterinary personnel and many different vounteers and rescue groups. We were promised that the animals would go to animal hospitals and then distributed to various shelters after their health and status was determined. We decided that the animals in the zone and this mission needed our expertise and we agreed to take part even in the face of warnings from other groups that animals would actually go to hokengyos (animal control death facilities). We assumed others were simply upset that they could not be involved. And we were promised again they would go to an animal hospital first and then distributed to various shelters afterward. WE WERE WRONG.
    Each rescue team consisted of an assigned veterinary person or persons and an assigned area within the zone and all things, at least initially, seemed positive as we all set out like a caravan to SAVE the animals of Fukushima, with every major media outlet here in Japan represented filming the launch, and the early morning “pep” rally as the mission began.

    It quickly devolved from then on. Our two car team was assigned Tomioka. We excitedly began telling our veterinary personel that we knew of many addresses there given to us by an annonomous source, and groups of 10 dogs in some cases, in areas just a few kms around the area we were assigned. We were told however, to stick with them instead of forging out on our own or splitting up to look for them. In fact the younger doctor with us exclaimed at about 10:30am that this first day we would not be rescuing animals as it was too hot and that we would simply be assessing the situation. This even though we had a list of at least 5 addresses from either owners or concerned workers that had already seen and fed nearly 20 animals that we anxiously wanted to find and we had been to Tomioka multiple times before. Nonetheless we begrudingly continued to follow our vet’s car for a little longer. About another half hour passed not seeing a single dog or cat. We began to feel this may be intentional, so we pulled up along side them and once again asked if we could at least split up to cover more ground.

    This seemed to be too difficult for them to argue so they told us we could go down two streets and drive parallel to them and meet a few kms further north. We thanked them and drove in opposite directions and quickly got ourselves “lost” but really went to the first address, where we knew of a cat. And sure enough we found him an extremely long-haired persian faced type that was desperately hiding in whatever shade he could find to avoid the sun and was dizzy and panting with heat exhaustion so much so that it was the first cat that allowed me to walk right up to it and offer some wet food a mere half-foot in front of his face; not because he was any less frightened as all are of human approach, but because he simply didnt have the wherewithall to run away. I set the trap in the bushes with him and sure enough it slowly but relatively quickly, walked into it to get at the wet food and we had caught our first animal.

    We then noticed that the fur along his entire chest and neck was ripped off down the skin from dreading up and being pulled away by a bush or some other obstacle he had come to. This coupled with his extreme heat exhaustion and dehydration gave us the impetus to immediately phone the vets we were with to come help the cat and diagnose or treat it on the spot thinking they had those supplies with them. They quickly came to meet us. The younger of the 2 vets who jumped out of the car first and came over with her expensive camera, which was the only thing she ended up using all day it seemed, immediately said that the cat had no collar on it and thus was a stray and HAD TO BE RETURNED WHERE WE GOT IT!!! (side note in all the 160+ cats we rescued thus far we have only rescued one that has had a collar, Fukushima cat owners simply dont give their cats collars). Thankfully (we thought) the older more local and experienced Dr. overruled that and said that it was in fact likely a family cat and said we could keep it… then walked away….. administering absolutely zero first aid. With saucered eyes we let them leave again and we moved the cat into the front most area of our car nearby where the air-conditioning vents could blow and gave water and more food as best we could.

    We made sure he was safe, somewhat comfortable and his panting soon stopped and he did take water and sat in sphynx posture, so we moved along setting another 2 more cat traps nearby, where we either saw a cat or were told one was taking residence in the yard of a house, making sure the first one was still conscious and alert for the rest of the day and he was. Then we set out to find dogs that we were hopefull to fill up the car with in the heat, as the day is better to catch them as they are more lethargic and likely to accept water and food in exchange for a leash. We quickly found two, a shiba and a brindled terrior mutt, living together in a confluence of yards. We managed to catch the shiba and were bringing it to the water and food we had near the car to load it in as he was relatively healthy and friendly, while we set the dog trap for the other who was much more skittish. Sure enough the vets arrived again this time with a local who had led them to the same place we already were. This local however was angry that we were taking the “guard dogs” of this house. This was rediculous as there is no one in the zone for which to guard the house from. And we had been told to come here and rescue them from a connection to the owner. It was not his house nor were they his dogs, nonetheless, we were instructed by the elder vet to leave the shiba TIED up next to the trap we set to coax the other to return,which had run off in all the hub-bub. Begrudingly we did as this made some modicum of sense, and left our trap as well asking that we be able to return in an hour or so to check if this “plan” would work. They said no we would leave it over night and come back first thing in the morning to save them then. Once again we begrudingly accepted that. But we did anyway and found that the Shiba had broken the crappy leash the vet left him tied with and we had to catch him again. We called and told them this but they said just use more ropes from the yard and tie him up nice and tight… now we were starting to become angry.

    We then went to go check the cat traps and they followed this idiot resident to where he knew where more dogs were. Unfortunately our traps were empty but we quickly got the call from the Dr.s because they had a dog but did not bring a cage with them to put him in! Thats right the vets did not bring a single cage in their huge new land rover! We shook our heads and rushed over to meet them and there was not one dog, but 5, some of them so sweet that they were kissing and loving us immediately as we arrived. The one dog had a terrible skin rash on its head and ears and we quickly loaded him into a cage. Then i turned to the other 4 and said ok what about these we have plenty more room. They told us no we had to leave them because the idiot was feeding them once a week and they didnt wanna make him angry. Our jaws dropped and a string of Japanese arguing then began as my Japanese partner burst into anger about this that these were not actually the property of this man and he had no right to keep them in the 20km zone. They needed to be rescued now or we may never have another opportunity and this mans limited ability to feed them was ludicrous and will in fact end as of September when the 20km zone is completely locked down. In addition this man claimed that Tomioka was HIS town and all the animals were HIS. Now that was complete bullshit as animals we have rescued and reunited with their owners from Tomioka are theirs not this lone assholes. Nonetheless the Dr.s decided that rather than upset this man at the expense of the animals and their actual owners the animals of Tomioka would be left behind.

    WE were naturally SHOCKED at this decision but we were told we have to recognize that humans were more important than these animals and that we now had to follow the team to the radiation screening in minami-soma that we have been to more times than everyone joining us combined. WE knew what our readings would be so we didnt see this as a priority like they did. As we followed behind the Dr.s again we slowly alowed them to speed ahead while we continued to search and in fact stop when we saw 2 more dogs to rescue in Okuma. They called us when we were out of site wondering where we were and we exclaimed we are rescuing more animals!!!! The first dog i had caught was a bit frightened extremely skinny and was naturally a bit bitey and actually nipped my thigh a bit when i put the leash around his neck. I tied the leash to a pole nearby and kept offering more treats and sweet words while we worked on coaxing the other, as we now had no dog trap and had to do it by hand. It was working somewhat but the dog was skittish and we were having difficulties.

    At that point they pulled up and although were clearly annoyed they had to come back for us. It came out that the dog we caught had bit me when i leashed him although my levis had protected the puncture and it was just a small bruise. However this was a serious thing to these doctors as they had something they could now do with themselves. That was to administer the Hokengyo “Death test on the spot” to him. For this test the “Death Dr.” holds a sausage in his hand out of reach of the dog and tempts him with it. Naturally the starving dog was immediately straining on the leash as much as he could to attempt to get that tasty food from him. But he had 3 tests to pass first. The first test is for that doctor to call the command “Osuwari” (sit), which thank god after months of being alone and without human contact the dog remembered and plopped right down swishing his tail back and forth on the radiation dust covered street. OK he passed the first one. Next is the command “Fuse” (the E is pronounced not like the thing you light, lie down), which once again he did this time with a wine like c’mon man “I am Hungry”. Thankfully due to me sweet talking and treats i gave him prior to their arrival, his fear inspired, aggression was completely gone and I had already given him head scratches before they arrived.

    The last test was the most difficult and I was praying to all dieties of Japan and all the natural world for this one. The Dr. would now offer him a piece of the sausage in his hand just at the limit of his reach and he had to take itwithout nipping his hand at all. OMG i was sooooo afraid for this one as I knew it was not his aggression but his extreme hunger that might cause him to accidently allow a tooth to touch the Dr.s hand…… I was pleading with the Dr. he is friendly, he is freindly, he is just so hungry and scared c’mon please let him live, but it was in vain the Dr. didnt understand english anyway… I nearly had to look away but I just couldn’t…. and if he failed this one I was ready to fight this man for this dogs life…. after all it was me that had tied him to a pole and forced him into this life or death test….but then something happened that nearly caused me to cry out… first his tongue reached out of his mouth and then he gently nibbled nibbled nibbled wining for the sausage… and with the gentleness of a buddhist monk took the sausage right from the palm of this Dr. of death’s open hand. He even licked every last trace of residue that remained from that same palm. Then the Dr. Stood up and said something to the younger that he was OK and tossed the rest of the sausage to him which he wollfed down in a single gulp. The younger then turned to me and translated that this one is ok and that his bite to me must have been just because he was scared at first, like i didnt know that or what had just happened. She said all pompously that its a good thing for him because if he didnt pass we would have had to do something else… once again like i didnt know what that was.

    Then things lightened a little and we were able to spend some time sweet talking and gently coaxing the other as other teams arrived on their way to the screening and saw the events taking place and me using the sweet talk hand grab technique, to the other very nervous and skittish dog that had lingered hungrily watching everything that had just taken place. At this point however I was not about to let another animal anywhere near these guys caught by my hand. So I made a show of attempting to do this very difficult and time consuming and patient technique, luring her close and offering my hand for her to get used to, before snapping quickly and pinning her by the shoulder blades or grabbing her collar at the top which would prevent her from biting my arm. Which if she did would have started the death test process all over again for another dog. I spent nearly 45 minutes offering her a pile of jerky treats that I broke up and gave to her and cooed, and even laid down on the radiation dust covered ground with her in order that if I did catch her that the catch would be somewhat less traumatic than every other with this technique. This was ofcourse in front of all the on-lookers when or if I did it so it needed to be perfect. Eventually the time that the screening closed necessated us simply giving her a nice meal and letting her keep her distance and we sped off to the radiation screening leaving her behind.

    Last but certainly not least, after we were yelled at by all the “senior” self-described famous Dr.s back at the original gymnasium for being an hour late (due to something i will not speak about publically) all the animals did in fact go to a hokengyo in Miharu. This hokengyo while admittedly was not as horrible as all the others in japan, did have a room that was off limits to everyone, where the sick cat went. The door was slammed in my face when I attempted to follow the cat we rescued in to assure its fate. I fear the worst.

    Needless to say we did not return the following day to offer our expertise to catch more animals for them and demanded they bring the dog and cat trap we had left behind to us, when they came back to be screened here in Minami-Soma. We were offered amidist, all the rules we had broken to join them again. We simply had to agree once again that “Humans were more important than the animals of Fukushima” … we decided to say thank you but we will continue to do this work ourselves, we do not agree.

    It was reported by VAFFA that the second day no animals were rescued but we saw at least another 15 animals at the Hokengyo where we picked up our traps on Sunday so while even 30 animals would be a low number only 15 is even worse and it is our belief that VAFFA intended to keep the numbers as low as possible to give the impression there were not many that remain. This is absolutely not true and we personally have witnessed more dogs and cats just in the city of Okuma than are being reported in the entire 20km zone. VAFFA is an instrument of the GOJ and this entire mission was an absolute sham. It was carefully designed to give both the rescuers and those still paying attention around the world an inaccurate assessment of the situation in Fukushima under the guise of an impartial assessment. This assessment was orchestrated by bringing in groups and guiding them to areas where no animals remained, forcing us to leave them behind, as well as working at a time when animals were avoiding the heat of the day. There are at least 10 times the number of animals that VAFFA claimed. They are keeping this information from the evacuated families and the VAFFA group does not care at all about the fate of those still remaining. THE TRUTH MUST BE TOLD!”

  9. Who is JAFFA? You mean VAFFA? Where did you find this official report by JAFFA?

  10. @Sandy: I too believe everyone should know the truth. Charles contacted me a couple of days ago and I offered him a help if needed but there is a total silence now. Probably LCA is working on it? FYI, VAFFA has this document.

    @Emi: Thanks for pointing it out. It’s indeed VAFFA, not JAFFA, my mistake. One of the vets who participated in this mission has detailed stories of what happened last weekend, it looks like Charles was in this vet’s group. However, there is no mentioning of the ‘conflict’ between the vets and volunteers in the blog. It’s in Japanese but here you go.

  11. It is very strange to find this information in this Dark Angel blog when it is nowhere to be found in Dr. Natsuhori and VAFFA311 tweets or in their respective facebook walls. Am I missing something? Or have you seen an official report from VAFFA311? I am just after the truth. Charles Harmison’s Note in his fb wall appeared at 8:17 pm on Thursday, and this blog was conveniently written on Friday, a day after Charles’ revelation. Before this revelation of Charles, the numbers reported from all tweets and fb walls are 15 cats and 5 dogs. Recently, there is also information that is surfacing that at least 90 pets were really rescued on July 16 & 17. Don’t you find this perplexing, and somewhat a cover-up? But what are they covering up? Euthanasia of the pets that they do not want to account for? I don’t want to believe that this is the case. Dr. Natsuhori does not seem to be a cold person to me. He is an animal doctor and like a medical doctor is sworn to protect life. This is very disturbing indeed.

  12. Hi Emi,

    Exactly! I can’t find a ‘official’ report on the rescue mission that took place last weekend by VAFFA neither. This is not good!! If the organization wants to be recognized and perceived as one organization with a good cause as well as to receive donations, the organization needs to be ‘TRANSPARENT.’

    I do also believe Dr. Natsuhori is a good-hearted vet. I don’t think ‘he’s working for the government and that he’s using this organization to make it appear that there aren’t animals anymore to be found’ according to Charles. 90 animals??? Euthanasia? Oh no… What is really the truth? I just want to simply believe there was a huge misunderstanding because of the language barriers between Charles and the vets/VAFFA, but I know that there was a Japanese partner working together with Charles that day…

    I also want to know the truth. I requested Dr. Natsuhori just an hour ago to issue a report for ordinary people like us… I hope there is no lies and cover-up going on.

  13. You are right on point here, transparency is the “word” of the day. VAFFA will get nowhere with their donation requests if the truth does not come out. The whole world is practically watching their every move. It is hard not to do the right thing when the global community is all eyes on you. And, I pray that VAFFA do the right thing for the sake of thousands more pets left behind in the no-go zone.

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