Sheltie Nation

Update on Japan Shelties

Dog-lovers brave Fukushima nuclear danger zone to save abandoned pets

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:29 PM on 14th April 2011

Rescuers have been risking their lives in the nuclear swamp around tsunami-hit Japan’s stricken power plant – to save abandoned dogs.

Thousands of animals have starved to death or been abandoned by their owners after the earthquake and tsunami shattered Japan on March 11.

A 20km exclusion zone was put in place around the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant as deadly radiation spilled into the atmosphere.

Stray: Dog-lovers were so moved by this picture of shelties in an abandoned street in Minami, Soma city, that they braved the nuclear exclusion zone to rescue the pets.

But teams of animal-lovers moved by the sight of a stray dogs struggling to survive have ignored health warnings to scour the deserted wasteland for signs of canine life.

The search began earlier this week when Etsumi Ogino saw a photo of a pack of shelties wandering through an abandoned town and thought of her own 13-year-old pet, Kein.

‘My heart trembled,’ said Ms Ogino, a 56-year-old volunteer at an animal shelter in Chiba prefecture. ‘They looked just like my dog. I started searching for them right away.’

Saved: Volunteers in protective yellow suits unpack rucksacks stuffed with dog food for the pack of shelties after tracking them down.
Relieved: One of the dogs appears tired as it is treated at an animal hospital in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, after being rescued by the group of animal lovers.

She and others contacted the photographer who had taken the picture and others of the dogs in an empty street in Minami Soma city, an area evacuated because of radiation fears.

They were told the address where the dogs were spotted and Ms Ogino relayed the information to a team of animal rescuers called Sheltie Rescue. By then, the group had been getting emails from dog lovers around the country about the abandoned pack.

Through emails and internet research it was established that the owner of the dogs was a breeder in Minami Soma. The group contacted the Fukushima city branch of the Japan Collie Club, tracked the owner down by phone at a shelter and got her go-ahead to rescue the dogs.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, seven volunteers left Tokyo and drove over broken roads and past demolished houses to meet three other volunteers in the ghost town which Minami Soma has become. Some had prepared radiation suits and others wore simple vinyl raincoats.

The first two to arrive found the pack around the Odaka railway station, near the owner’s home, where the dogs had last been seen.

‘They were waiting for their owner,’ said Tamiko Nakamura, a volunteer who went with the group from Tokyo.

The dogs had been left some dry food, and were not starving.

It took a while to entice them with snacks, and six or seven were bundled into each car. The group saved 20 dogs in all.

Most were taken to a veterinary clinic in Kanagawa prefecture just west of Tokyo. Others are being cared for by individuals in other areas.

Abandoned: One of the shelties, still covered in dust and dirt from the earthquake, shivers nervously as a rescuer approaches with help.
Safe at last: A happy sheltie raises a paw after being put into a cage ready to be transported back to its owner.
Recovery: The group saved 20 dogs in all who were taken to rescue centres. The owner of the animals was tracked own and found to be a breeder from the town where they were left.

The owner, worn down by the disaster and worrying about her dogs, was ‘extremely happy’, Ms Nakamura said. She said the owner did not want her identity revealed.

Ms Nakamura only regrets that some of the dogs in the pack ran away and countless others are still stranded in the evacuation zone.

‘There are still some left behind,’ she said. ‘I’m concerned about them and want to pull them out.’


Update: So many people saw this on CNN and other news websites that our Japanese friends have posted the news with an update in English.

12 Responses »


  2. Bless those big-hearted and brave rescuers in Japan. I’m happy that so many survived and hope the rest will be found as well. I’m sure God is pleased. Remember “what one does for the least of My creatures, one does for Me” or something close to that. Well done rescuers, well done!

  3. If you click on the Japanese sheltie rescue site, you’ll see an update in English that indicates that the remaining shelties were saveda few days after the first rescue.

    Here’s the text from the site:

    Situation of shelties reported on CNN:

    18 shlties were caputured in the afternoon on April 10th to take refuge from the influenced area of the nuclear plant in Fukushima.

    The?check results of radiation doses indicate that all 18 shelties have no radiation materials on their body.
    After receiving medical treatments, volanteers would have looked after these shelties at their homes.
    We are sorry that 3 or 4 shelties have been left in the area , and have plan to visit again to get them.

    EDIT:The one left sheltie was picked up on April 17th , and the rest two shelties were found on 24th?and alive well.

  4. Such big hearts these volunteers have. Amazing.

  5. Praise God and the wonderful Japanese people who saved these Angels. My heart is sick with grief for those who may have died. More Angels in Heaven. I would leap tall buildings for mine and hope some kind soul would rescue them if thishappened to me.

  6. Thank you, Kelly, for letting us know about this Sheltie miracle! It is so upsetting to read of neglect and violence against any animal. It’s great to instead get a story about hope and kindness. I pray that we would all do the same thing, if this tragedy happened in our backyards.

  7. Thank you Japan for rescuing the fur face babies…..and for loving shelties…Thanks for your compassion…
    We love you Japan…..

  8. I saw this initially on yahoo, but just the first note. I am so glad to be able to read this update. These people did a very unselfish thing and are to be congratulated for being so brave and caring so very much for these sweethearts. It really is a touching story and just proves how great our love is for animals. I am sorry to read that some of the dogs ran off and couldn’t be rescued too. But we Sheltie lovers know how shy some of them are. If only God saved them too. I pray He did.

  9. Makes me have faith in human kindness and compassion again. So proud of the people who made it their business to rescue these dogs from certain death. They are all adorable and hopefully safe and secure now.

    Kudos to the rescuers in Japan!!

  10. So many people sent me this story when it first broke, but I hadn’t seen the update. So happy all the dogs are safe and sound now!

  11. Wonderful work at great personal risk!
    Thank you, Japanese dog lovers!

    • Thank you to all who helped save the sheltie’s and other dogs I am a sheltie own of a rescue in nova scotia canada people need to know dogs need people to help get them out they will not do this on there own all animal deserve to servive as well as people glad to know 20 saved i will be thinking of those left behind what a shame

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