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Tag: left behind

Evacuating Japan: Will pets be left behind?

Will families of American military personnel in Japan be forced to leave their pets behind when they evacuate?

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is seeking the anwer to that question.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the non-profit organization asks for a clarification of the U.S. government’s policy on whether or not military families can bring their pets with them — or must be forced to choose between staying in harm’s way and abandoning a beloved companion.

Family members of military personnel stationed in Japan began evacuating today amid the increasing threat of radioactivity in the wake of last week’s earthquake and tsunami.

ALDF says it has received desperate emails from some of them, who say they’ve been informed pets will not be allowed on evacuation planes chartered by the U.S. Department of State.

“In a context of terrifying natural and nuclear disasters, with military personnel and their families already being separated from each other, we would hope that the U.S. government would not place an additional burden on military families by disregarding the very real bonds they have with their animal companions” said Carter Dillard, ALDF’s director of litigation.

“It is our hope that the tragedy of people forced to abandon beloved pets in order to evacuate to safety, which we saw play out on a heartbreaking scale during Hurricane Katrina, is not replicated during the current crisis in Japan.”

ALDF says it has heard from numerous families who say they are hesitant to evacuate from the escalating radiation danger if they are required to leave their pets behind.

Some families have turned to Facebook for help, including Mariaelena Rodriguez Geoffray, shown above with her dog, Bella. Seeking a commercial flight, she has been told by two airlines that temperatures are too cold to fly a pet.

Her dilemma is recounted on the blog Two Little Cavaliers.

There are about 43,000 dependents of American military personnel living in Japan.

Left behind: List of casualties grows

One hadn’t eaten in a month. The other had a skin infection so severe one of her ears was swollen more than twice its size with blood.

Both ended up at the Animal Medical and Surgical Center in North Scottsdale after being found abandoned — two more dogs in the continuing parade of pets being left behind by families foreclosed upon, evicted or simply thoughtless.

The two dogs were brought in within days of each other, Channel 15 News in Phoenix reported.

Veterinarian Sheila Martin said one of the dogs had not eaten in about a month and was infested with thousands of ticks. The dog’s owners left her behind when they moved out of their El Mirage home a month ago.

El Mirage Police are looking into filing charges against the dog’s owner.

Earlier this week, a second dog was brought into the Animal Medical and Surgical Center. She too had been abandoned by her owner. Martin said it will take about three months for her to recover from a skin disease that caused most of her hair to fall out.

The Lost Our Home Pet Foundation, a group that rescues pets left behind due to foreclosures or other financial hardships, is paying for the dogs’ care.

In the past three weeks, the group has seen three pets so badly neglected the animals have needed hospital care, said Jodi Polanski, president of the foundation,

“You keep thinking you see a bad case and then you have another one come right after that.”