The truth about the tsunami dog duo
Truth, always elusive, is even tougher to get a handle on in the chaotic aftermath of a tsunami — and that’s one reason the fate of the two dogs pictured in the now famous video of one stranded dog loyally watching over another remains obscure.
Despite reports from CNN, UK Telegraph, NPR, PETA and others that the dogs were rescued — all based solely on Facebook posts by Kenn Sakurai, the owner of a dog food supply company in Japan — their fates remain unclear and uncomfirmed.
The best account we can find is one prepared by Global Animal, an online animal magazine that, unlike most major media, interviewed Sakurai, who is being described, without documentation, as both a savior or a charlatan in Internet posts
Global Animal reports that Sakurai told them the two dogs were rescued by friends of his who are off-road bikers and that the dogs are being treated by an undisclosed veterinarian.
Sakurai lists his occupation as president of Butch Japan, Inc., a dog food company. Oddly, for a self described animal lover, his Facebook page lists Michael Vick among his “favorite athletes.”
Sakurai has reportedly deleted all negative comments from the page — as well as those that questioned his involvement in rescuing the dogs.
Sakurai’s page says he was born in Tokyo, raised in Tokyo and the UK and went to school in Tokyo and New York City. He says he was involved with the development of Tokyo Disneyland and that he now is the importer of ”the safest dog and cat food on the planet.”
After the tsunami, he set up a paypal account so that people could donate to his effort, but, in his later posts on his Facebook page, he says he plans to donate that money to established shelters.
Still, many remain troubled that he has presented no photographic evidence that the two dogs are safe.
Global Animal reports: “Mr. Sakurai says he promised the bikers that he wouldn’t reveal the location of the veterinarian because they don’t want animal rescue organizations to take the dogs for their own fundraising purposes. This is why no pictures are being made available, claims Mr. Sakurai.”
In an editorial written by Arthur Jeon, co-founder of the online magazine, Sakurai is quoted as saying he would try and send the organization photos. But, the magazine said, “we are not hopeful that credible evidence will materialize.”
“Our best guess is that some difficult truth may be hidden here, and that either one or both dogs have died, possibly on the trip or shortly after. Or, that this is a story that got out of hand, perhaps being used to raise money by Mr. Sakurai himself, though he is not associated with any animal rescue organization that’s mobilized in the devastated areas.”
Global Animal provided readers interested in donating money to the animal rescue effort in Japan with a list of legitimate and long-standing animal rescue organizations.
The editorial concludes: “It’s human nature to yearn for a happy ending, to be able to move these dogs’ misery off our mental list of anguish and to find heroes in a horrible reality. It also makes for ‘good copy’ by mainstream news organizations who hit it for its feel-good elements, then move on. However, the web and Facebook are not good places to collect facts for substantiated reporting; these reputable news organizations know better.
“Ultimately, the two dogs … deserve the truth. As do we. If Mr. Sakurai responds with verifiable truth that the dogs are alive and well, nobody will be happier than the hardcore animal lovers and readers of Global Animal.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, company, dogs, earthquake, facebook, fate, global animal, japan, kenn sakurai, loyalty, news, news media, outcome, pet food, pets, president, reports, rescue, rescuing, sakurai, truth, tsunami, two dogs in japan, video