The AVMA and our sister organization, the AVMF, continue to monitor the situation in Japan closely following the recent tragic events.
AVMA VMAT member Dr. Lisa Murphy will be traveling to Japan this week to serve on a team of radiation and animal rescue experts from the United States and Japan who will meet from May 2-3 at the International House of Japan in Tokyo to discuss the current crisis and develop steps to provide aid to animals inside the evacuation zone. The AVMF is sponsoring Dr. Murphy’s travel. Want to hear more about it? Listen to Dr. Murphy’s interview for our “AVMA Animal Tracks” podcast.
This gathering of experts is being organized by NARSC member the international Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW—www.ifaw.org).
From a recent IFAW press release on the Japan effort:
“Currently, there is limited information available for decontamination and/or treatment of animals affected by radiation, nor is there any standards established for determining when an animal has been exposed to an unsafe level of radiation. Little is known about the survivability of wildlife and pets – or the viability of farm animals – exposed to radiation.
The goal of the IFAW-led summit is to develop response procedures and protocols to monitor, evacuate, and treat animals contaminated by radiation. The subject matter experts will cover issues such as radiation exposure, animal physiology, animal behavior, animal rescue and evacuation techniques, animal decontamination, animal sheltering and husbandry, wildlife habitat and rehabilitation, and human responder safety.
The committee includes representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Environment, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): APHIS Animal Care and Wildlife Services, United States Army Veterinary Corps, veterinary and toxicology experts, academicians, and IFAW.
“We have been interviewing people from the evacuated towns and we’ve seen video evidence of a large number of animals, including livestock, horses, and companion animals that have been left behind,” said Dr. Dick Green, IFAW Disaster Manager. “We can’t turn a blind eye to Japan’s abandoned animals that have not received adequate food or water for more than a month and continue to receive dangerous levels of radiation.”
We’re regularly updating information about the situation in Japan on our website, so check that page periodically for important news and updates.