I'm going to combine Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday into one post because there wasn't anything too super exciting happening.
On Monday we were back in Sendai after the weekend in Fukushima. One of my fellow veterinary technician volunteers who runs her own kitten and special needs cat rescue had been taking care of two 6-7 week old kittens that were living with us who were sick with an upper respiratory infection and concurrent conjunctivitis.
She left on Monday and I had to take over their care. We decided to take them and their mother along with the 5 cats pulled from the warehouse in Hirono to a veterinary clinic in Sendai that a Japanese volunteer recommended to us. We also had her come along to translate for us.
So on Monday morning early we all piled into the car with 8 cats and made our way to the vet clinic. Where we waited. And waited. We didn't have an appointment because we had literally just decided the night before that they all needed veterinary care because of their upper respiratory infections. We ended up waiting outside with all of the cats for a couple of hours before we were seen. The Japanese veterinarian looked like a really young guy (though most Japanese people look very young) and he was very polite to us. He did brief examinations of each cat while I described their symptoms, how they were eating, where they came from, etc. When he had finished examining the Hirono cats he told us that he didn't want to treat them until they got worse because their symptoms were fairly mild (runny eyes, wheezy breathing, stuffy noses). I then got quite rude with him because I was ticked off at how long everything was taking and at the fact that he wasn't really listening to us when we told him about the situation. I had our translator ask many pointed questions and ultimately he gave us doxycycline for all 5 of the cats despite initially not wanting to give any. Victory!
Next he examined the kittens. I had brought the plethora of medications that they had been on in their short lives and explained that I wanted either Clavamox or azithromicin and terramycin drops. He had none of these. He acknowledged that the kittens were quite sick but I think his understanding of URI cat medicine is fairly limited and he gave us ampicillin. It was very annoying because the kittens were much worse off than the adult cats and really needed a strong antibiotic to knock out their illness. So after consulting some other vet techs I decided to start them on doxycycline borrowed from the adult cats.
After spending the majority of the day at the veterinary office we then had to go and do a pick up of a cat that was being surrendered for fostering from Kessenuma. I won't bore you with the details but what should have been a 5 hour round trip ended up being 7 hours because we got lost and ended up in a debris field late at night. We did manage to pick up the cat, Kenshiro, but we were so exhausted when we got back that I didn't even get to really look at him much.
Tuesday we got a late start after our late night out driving in the Japanese boondocks. We drove to Inawashiro to a hotel called Club LOHAS where the JEARS team had set up shop after moving out of the other house.
Club LOHAS is great! We have a small room with a loft for sleeping and below the sleeping area there is a cafe with delicious food and a spa treatment area (which I've yet to use unfortunately). The JEARS team only found it by accident when they stopped at the cafe (it's called, Dog Run Cafe) and inquired with the waiter about places in the area where they could set up a temporary shelter. The waiter turned out to be the owner of the hotel and told them that she would absolutely let them stay and she had some open space where tents for dogs could be housed. They jumped on that and now are staying there.
From Inawashiro, the Kinship Circle team split up with three going to Kawamata where people are being evacuated and part of which will be closed off on Sunday. They were going to deliver flyers and try to spread the word that people have organizations that will help with their pets. Myself, my incident commander, and a photographer went to Hirono to try to get into the 20 km exclusion zone to pick up an elderly dog that the owner had been forced to leave behind.
Trying to get into the 20 km is an interesting experience. All of the roads have been blocked by huge buses which transport the guards. When you pull up, on Japanese guard will run towards your car and inquire as to what you are doing in Japanese. He wears a blue jumpsuit and a helmet and carries a baton. When he figures out you don't speak Japanese all of the other guards come up to help and you have to hand over your international driving permit and passport and they take down your name and try to quiz you on the information on your passport when you aren't looking at it. When you answer correctly they tell you that you can't get into the 20 km zone without permission from the mayor and they turn you around.
The permission from the mayor thing, it doesn't actually happen. You can't get into the 20 km zone. The only people going into the 20 km zone for animals are the occasional gaijin doing it illegally and 5 government workers from the Department of Agriculture and Department of Environment who are apparently going in and feeding. When you approach the mayor as a rescue group about getting access you are told that you have to get permission from the Nuclear Safety Department which isn't giving permission to any rescue groups to go into the exclusion zone because pets are their lowest priority (they've actually told people this). It's so frustrating that they've basically set it up that most of these animals will probably die.
After being rejected from the 20 km we headed back to Inawashiro and I got ready to stay there for the week.
Wednesday was a shelter building day. We set up a tent for the dogs that we could pick up in the coming week early in the morning. We then spent the day going to a home store (Daiyu 8) and a pet store to get crates and other supplies.
The Japanese pet store is much like the American pet store...of 25 years ago. They keep lots of all types of animals in horrendous conditions. They have puppies and kittens which they apparently keep dehydrated so that they will sit still and look cute. They keep betta fish in plastic bags, turtles in tiny bowls, birds in cages without perches or toys, and I could go on but this list is depressing me. It was a horrible experience. I saw one quaker parakeet who was super cold and puffed up. I saw a rabbit that looked like it had an eye infection. When I inquired (via a translator) they told me the animals were being treated by veterinarians. I find this highly doubtful, especially for the smaller animals. It was just plain awful. Hopefully the Japanese conception of animal welfare will develop more quickly than it has in the U.S. but I have little hope that the pet store system will change much in coming years.