Thursday, April 21, 2011

fukushima prefecture and kitties

dear friends,

I'm about to hit the sack for an early day tomorrow. Today, I drove to the town of Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima prefecture, where we had gotten a call about some semi-socialized cats that were on their way to animal control. The six kitties were easy to trap, but the adults were more difficult and took a lot of time, tricks, some humane traps, some cardboard, some bribes, and innovation - but luckily no scratches. Ginny and I managed to round up 11 cats in all (out of about 13) and brought them back to the shelter. The staff there is really great, dealing with an enormous intake of animals with grace and cheer. Here's one of the vets working at Animal Friends.

I've met some other really interesting people - Stuart is another vet, visiting from England. Today he's in the exclusion zone picking up animals and doing public feeds for the wandering packs. Sister Michael, a nun, comes from an order that tries to alleviate suffering, and her specialty is animals. She's a pro. Miho, a Kanagawa person, is excellently fluent in Japanese and English and has an acerbic wit to boot. She slept on the floor of our hotel room last night (three of us shared a business hotel room), snuggled up in her tiny backpacking zero-degree sleeping bag that she got for when she was traveling in India. There are tons more great people here.

I have not yet been to the nuclear exclusion zone, and may not go there this week. This is probably the biggest problem area, as I mentioned in my previous email, and the team really wants to get out as many animals as possible, as a lot of them are wasting away, some of them shut in houses with nobody home for weeks or even since the earthquake, and farm animals tethered and penned. The team is armed with a dosimeter, highly protective masks, gloves, and wear long sleeves and scarves to make sure their bodies are fully covered. There are also decontamination centers where you can be scanned when coming out, and everyone is logging their exposure in order to minimize exposure to any one person, and to know when it might be a good time to quit going in.

Tomorrow, I'm heading out with Ginny again, this time to Iwate prefecture, to answer a call about someone who's evacuating to a shelter and can't take their pet. It's a long drive - maybe eight or nine hours - and we'll probably be sleeping in the car on the way back. Road trip? No hotels operating up there, or not many, and no money anyway. Wish us luck!

Love to you all.


  1. Good Luck, I hope you keep updating on how it is going. I know a few people living up in Yamagata, Miyagi and Iwate. If you encounter any problems you can contact me and I can see if I can arrange assistance. 090-5593-8814. My home is open to you guys if you need a place to crash- it is tiny and messy but warm and welcoming :) I can cram as many people as required as it surely better than cramming into a hotel room and the organization involved can use their funds on other things than hotel rooms. I am so impressed with the extent of the work you guys are doing. My offer is open to any others in the organization volunteering to go out to Fukushima and needing to stop in Niigata. I will print out the info and hand it out to any of my students who may be able to adopt a pet.
    Regards and take care.

  2. Keep up the good work. It's so sad to think of animals starving because their owners can't get to them.

  3. The vet link at the top of the post is dead btw. Cute baby kitties, all safe now. Hope everything went well today xxx

  4. Thanks Lily! It was so lovely to meet you.

    Sarah, thanks for stopping by. I can't think about it too much, even when I'm spending time with the animals, or I'll cry. I just try to give them love and snuggles when they're with me.

    JB, I fixed the link!

  5. think this is humans at their very best with LOVE!