It's been almost nine months since a tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant forced thousands of people from their homes in Japan. The photos of residents evacuating with their dogs was heartbreaking, although the number of of pet-friendly evacuation shelters was impressive.
Today, access is restricted to the evacuation zone, but I was shocked to learn how many animals are still there. Most non-Japanese media outlets left the area long ago, but animal lovers have been using the Internet to spread the word.
Animal rescue groups have risked arrest and radiation exposure to sneak into the evacuation zone and help the pets left behind. Volunteers take in as many dogs and cats as they can, and put out food for the animals they can't take with them.
People have been petitioning the Japanese government to assist with the animal rescue efforts, or at least allow volunteers to officially enter the evacuation zone. Earlier this week, the government announced it will allow approved groups to rescue more than 1,000 pets. No concrete criteria or plans have been set, but rescue groups are hopeful that this is a big step in the right direction.
For more information on the rescue efforts, a friend of mine created the Japanese Earthquake Animal Info page on Facebook  to share links and brief translations of Japanese news related to animal rescue activities.