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Pet rescue Fukushima! Animals saved from nuclear wasteland by volunteers who risked their own lives


Survivors: Volunteers have braved the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to rescue hundreds of pets abandoned after the earthquake and tsunami in March last year

For months they have been forced to wander a desolate landscape, lost, confused and alone. The thousands of dogs and cats abandoned in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis have endured dangerously high radiation levels, a severe lack of food and now the freezing winter weather.
But thanks to a group of selfless volunteers, who have braved the 20km exclusion zone around the stricken plant, many of the animals are finally being reunited with their grateful owners.

Purring: A cat relaxes in his cage in after being rescued from the town of Okuma set within the 20km exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Rescue mission: Volunteers were given special permission to enter the 20 mile exclusion zone late last year

While Japan focuses on containing the nuclear accident and protecting people from radiation, Yasunori Hoso, representative director of United Kennel Club Japan, has been trying to save as many dogs and cats from the no-go area as possible.

Handful: The rescuers have also helped abandoned farm animals like this terrified cow discovered wandering a highway near the town of Namie

'But when it comes to the dogs themselves, all of them, without exception, become really ecstatic when they get reunited with their owners'.
A 9.0-magnitude earthquake and massive tsunami on March 11 triggered the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years and forced residents around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to flee, with many of them having to leave behind their beloved pets.
More than 150,000 people from Fukushima prefecture still cannot return to their homes, with nearly half of them from the exclusion zone.

Japan's United Kennel Club Director Yasunori Hoso has led efforts to help the thousands of abandoned animals

Ordeal: Many of the animals, which were forced to survive on their own for over nine months, have since been returned to their grateful owners

Work to do: Mr Hoso, who runs a shelter for about 350 dogs and cats says there are many more animals which still need help

Volunteers hope to find new homes for hundreds of animals that can't be reunited with their owners

Mr Hoso said there are hundreds more animals in the area that still need help.
He added: '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.
'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.'

Ghost town: More than 150,000 people from the area around Fukushima still cannot return to their homes

Desolate: An empty shopping street in the town of Namie inside the 20km exclusion zone

Deities: Dolls of the 'Seven Gods of Good Fortune' are seen inside a house damaged by the earthquake in March last year

Trashed: A home appliance retailer damaged by the earthquake

Toru Akama, an engineer working at the Fukushima nuclear plant, asked Mr Hoso to look after his 14 dogs when an entry ban was imposed on his town.
He said: 'I was really happy for my dogs. They are part of my family. There was no way I could abandon them.'
Mr Hoso said he plans to carry on until the last dog in his shelter is returned to its owner or finds a new home.
'That is what keeps me going, what makes me determined that I have to push ahead until the last one goes back to its owner."

source: dailymail