Believe it or not there is a beautiful story weaving itself through the disaster of Japan and into our hearts. I saw it a few nights ago as I was watching Anderson Cooper’s 360. Normally I regarded Mr. Cooper as a serious individual who was one of the first on the scene in Libya when it broke out and then again in Japan, needless to say I was shocked when a large portion of his late night news series showcased our four legged friends, specifically the dogs left behind in the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Isabella Gallaon-Aoki is a part of the Japanese Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support group (JEARS). Selflessly these individuals journey into the 20km exclusion zone in hopes to save the dogs and livestock many were forced to leave behind. Reporters go into the area around the Fukushima Daiichi power plant with full intentions on covering the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, but most do not leave without leaving food and water behind for many of the abandoned animals. On AC360’s blog Aoki was quoted saying, “I understand the nuclear danger and everything, but they’re just being left to starve to death, basically.”
At first I was deeply troubled by the sight I saw on my television that night. A hand, extending towards a beagle, tied to a 6-7 foot wood post with a 4-5 foot piece of rope (the kind you would see boats moored up to a dock with). As the camera got closer the fear that eradiated from the small dog’s entire persona brought tears to my eyes. Back arched in a sickening ‘C’ shape, tail tucked tightly through a pair of withered hind legs as they scattered left and right unsure of what the approaching reporters were about to do. The dog’s eyes were alive and burning with fear contradicting the small animal’s torso, which had been all but lost to starvation. I thought about turning the channel but that would have just made me ignorant and I decided to keep watching.
Eventually Cooper showed that there is hope for these animals and the reason the reporters and some of the individuals in the rescue group leave them behind is because it is against the culture to take away someone’s animal without their permission. All hope is not lost however, as many owners are now writing to JEARS requesting their animals to be brought home. Later on the broadcast of AC360 I watched as rescuers went into the exclusion zone, their car slowly approached a group of dogs panting with excitement and wagging their tails. It may take a long time to recover in Japan however with individuals such as Gallaon-Aoki and an organization like JEARS, the situation in Japan is guaranteed to improve at the very least.
Please visit http://jears.org/ if you want more information on JEARS or how to help in this its cause.