Walking Wounded Feb03

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Robert Slattery

is a writer living in Western North Carolina. He enjoys music and all sorts of other things.

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Walking Wounded

Animal Rights – Adding to the tragic narrative of the Japanese tsunami and earthquake of last year, Reuters is reporting the awful trials of dogs and cats left behind after the evacuation of the Fukushima exclusion zone.

Though the Japanese government allowed animal welfare groups into the 20-km evacuation zone in December, there are an unknown number of animals left in the area where they have been exposed to radiation and limited food resources. In addition to these conditions, they now face harsh winter conditions.

Yasunori Hoso, the head of an animal shelter United Kennel Club Japan is serving the area as best he can. In his shelter, he is currently holding roughly 350 dogs and cats from the danger zone, and he hopes to do more. “If we cannot go in to take them out, I hope the government will at least let us go there and leave food for them.” It is uncertain though, if and when welfare groups will be able to enter the area to help. If they cannot enter the region, which is still under a strict ban for all unauthorized civilians, the future looks bleak for animals. Speaking on the dogs and cats left in the reigion, Hoso states, “If left alone, tens of them will die everyday. Unlike well-fed animals that can keep themselves warm with their own body fat, starving ones will just shrivel up and die.”

His efforts are making a change for many who have been forced from the area, but, he, like others, hopes to do more to alleviate just once facet of the suffering the area has suffered. That said, others are defying government orders in an effort to feed the animals they are responsible for. One such person, Naoto Matsumura, a life-long local and farmer, has sneaked in and out of the evacuation zone to feed his animals.

At first, it began with just feeding his livestock. With time, though, local dogs and cats started to show, and he quickly ran out of food. When he did, he sneaked out, bought food, and sneaked back in.

Seeing the rampant death-including the nauseatingly sad death of a calf and its mother—he has grown quite angry with the capital. He explains, “I’m full of rage…That’s why I’m still here. I refuse to leave and let go of this anger and grief. I weep when I see my hometown. The government and the people in Tokyo don’t know what’s really happening here.”

The issue is a complex one, where the government’s universal restrictions stand in the way of the humanitarian efforts in order to protect those very same people. It may, though, best serve the capital to allow those former homeowners in at their own risk. For many, their pets are their family, and for others, family is not the issue but simple, human sympathy.

Read more about Hoso at Reuters and Matsumura at CNN.