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Japanese vet calls for pet-friendly earthquake shelters


Wednesday October 5th 2016

A vet in Japan is calling for animal-friendly evacuation shelters after many earthquake victims slept in their cars rather than be separated from their beloved pets.

Vet Ryunosuke Tokuda sheltered 1,000 pet owners and 2,000 pets at his animal hospital following the Kyushu earthquake in April, after spending two years converting the hospital for the purpose of sheltering people and their pets.

He is now urging officials to provide more facilities and more than 33,000 people have signed a petition supporting him, according to the Japan Times.

Mr Tokuda visited the north-eastern Tohoku region of Japan in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

While there, he saw people sleeping in their cars with their pets rather than be separated from them. Animals had to be put in different shelter facilities.

"When I visited Tohoku, dogs and cats had been placed in [animal] shelters. I could have brought them back to Kumamoto, but they kept looking for their owners. Pets and owners shouldn't be separated," Mr Tokuda said.

The Japan Times says Environment Ministry guidelines stop short of allowing animals to sleep in evacuation shelters "out of consideration for human evacuees". However, a spokesman says the ministry recognises the need, and a panel will meet to discuss the issue next year.

Copyright Press Association 2016