– Return our dogs, TEPCO demands (The Australian, June 28, 2011):
A MAN who snatched two dogs to safety from the grounds of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has revealed the plant’s disgraced operator TEPCO later rang him to assert ownership over them.
The Australian yesterday revealed the story of animal rescue “guerilla” Hiroshi Hoshi’s mission to the plant to grab two Japanese Shiba dogs spotted wandering around on a webcam trained on the facility.
Yesterday, Mr Hoshi said one of the plant’s managers, who called himself Mr Igarashi, made a “ghoulish and bizarre” phone call to him soon after he rescued the dogs, suggesting they had become company property.
“He sounded that those dogs actually belong to TEPCO, because they were found at privately owned area of the plant,” Mr Hoshi told The Australian.
“We will never give them away — we are the guardians of those two dogs.”
The dogs, thought to be sisters, were first seen at the plant earlier this month, three months after the nuclear accident, and were found to have absorbed significant amounts of radiation.
Nevertheless, they have been given a clean bill of health and were given to a couple in Yokohama.
Mr Hoshi, 55, has been making a series of unauthorised missions into the radioactive zone to rescue distressed animals. Yesterday, he received an offer to collaborate on rescue efforts from an NGO called Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue, comprising Japan’s best-known animal welfare organisations.
The organisation has government permission to operate within the 20km perimeter around the nuclear plant, but Mr Hoshi has been critical of the slowness of its members to act to ease the suffering of the thousands of animals in the area.
“I am still deciding whether I should accept this offer to join forces,” he said.