A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Sheltie Dogs Rescued from Japanese Radiation Zone

Rescue group brings 20 of them to safety

Ten of the Shelties were photographed as they wandered through an empty street. Photo by Hiro Komae.

Zoe Staff Report

Packs of stray dogs running through a deserted city in a radiation zone … sounds like something out of a bad apocalyptic movie. And you imagine hounds with bloodshot eyes, not cute Shelties.

But dozens of purebred Shelties were spotted by a news team in an abandoned town near Japan’s destroyed nuclear plant, and when Etsumi Ogino saw the photo in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, she called them at once.

“My heart trembled,” Ogino told the paper. “They looked just like my dog. I started searching for them right away.”

Ogino volunteers at an animal shelter outside of Tokyo. She learned that the photo was taken in Minami Soma city, which had been evacuated because of radiation.

Other volunteers with a group called Sheltie Rescue had just discovered that the dogs belonged to a breeder who was now at an evacuation shelter. They called her to let her know they were on their way.

Seven people, including Ogino, left Tokyo to make their way across crumpled roads and meet up with more animal rescuers in Minami Soma. Some had brought radiation suits; others just wore raincoats for protection.

They found the dogs hanging out around the train station near the home of the breeder, who had left out food for them. Some of the dogs ran away and couldn’t be picked up, but 20 were soon bundled into cars and taken back to Tokyo. Some are still at a veterinary hospital; others in foster homes. The group plans to return and try to rescue the rest of the dogs.

The breeder, stressed and exhausted like so many other people, said she was very happy but asked to keep her name private.

What do you say? Have you been following the animal rescue news from Japan? Let us know what you’ve been hearing in a comment below or on Facebook.

What you can do: The rescue coalition Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support is working in some of the most dangerous areas in Japan, including the ghost town of Minami Soma, where the Shelties were found. They welcome your support.