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Sit! Search and Rescue Dogs Denied
March 16, 2011 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Swiss search and rescue dogs were having trouble entering Japan due to strict Japanese rules on imported animals.

The U.S. has also sent over 150 rescuers and 12 dogs to help, and are trying to expedite the entry process. A few teams started working yesterday. You can watch some brief videos of the deployment here.

There are a number of different types of search and rescue dogs. A history of rescue dogs.

And ok, a little video of dog love from Japan, post earthquake and tsunami.
posted by anya32 (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm... if the Japanese can waive the rules on how much radiation workers can receive, you'd think they would waive S&R dog import rules, too.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:16 AM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, how ironic!
posted by swift at 10:17 AM on March 16, 2011


After watching the "dog keeps vigil over injured friend" video from your last link, I'm now drowing in a pool of my own tears.
Just wanted to point out that in the Earthquake thread, fraula made a really great post with some links to pet-centric Japanese disaster relief.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:22 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given Australia's experience with these matters, Japan's concern may indeed be valid. They don't want to add widespread famine, unfamiliar animal-borne diseases, and agricultural pestilence to their already-long list of problems.
posted by schmod at 10:26 AM on March 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Japan earthquake: UK rescue team 'foiled by red tape'

UK rescue workers say they had to leave quake-hit Japan because they could not secure the necessary paperwork from the British Embassy in Tokyo.

Willie McMartin, operations director at Grangemouth-based International Rescue Corps (IRC), said the team had no choice but to leave.

"The team has had excellent help from the Japanese embassy in London and the authorities in Tokyo but it broke down when they couldn't get the relevant paperwork from the British embassy in Tokyo," he said.

"This was the 32nd world disaster we have been to and we've only had problems twice before with host governments in China and Afghanistan.

"We have never encountered the position where the British embassy, our own country, came up with a show-stopper."
posted by MuffinMan at 10:32 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


"We have never encountered the position where the British embassy, our own country, came up with a show-stopper."

The ongoing disaster is not a show. Maybe the British embassy knew what it was doing.
posted by sour cream at 10:39 AM on March 16, 2011


Thanks for the link, Dr. Zira - I have been following the thread but missed that.
posted by anya32 at 10:42 AM on March 16, 2011


This was also the case in the New Zealand quake that happened recently.
posted by Mercaptan at 10:43 AM on March 16, 2011


Yeah, because the Swiss spent many thousands of dollars to train search and rescue dogs and transport them halfway around the world without compensation, but they forgot to give them a rabies shot? The goal here is to use the dogs to find anyone who, amazingly enough, is still alive in the rubble. Delay means that these survivors die while the dogs that were sent to rescue them are sitting in the kennel.

Given Australia's experience with these matters, Japan's concern may indeed be valid. They don't want to add widespread famine, unfamiliar animal-borne diseases, and agricultural pestilence to their already-long list of problems.
That was a new species introduced into a vast empty countryside where there were no natural predators. These are a couple of of highly trained dogs escorted by highly trained handlers in a disaster zone. The dogs aren't going to be reproducing and taking over Japan.
posted by zachlipton at 11:01 AM on March 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


I bet if it was some bureaucrat's or politician's family members who were missing they'd find a way to let the dogs in.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:18 AM on March 16, 2011


That was a new species introduced into a vast empty countryside where there were no natural predators. These are a couple of of highly trained dogs escorted by highly trained handlers in a disaster zone. The dogs aren't going to be reproducing and taking over Japan.

Could the Japanese have a valid concern about any internal parasites a dog might have getting into the ecosystem?
posted by acb at 11:20 AM on March 16, 2011


I just left a comment on NHK's website:

NEWS STORY -- Rescue dogs are not being allowed into your country by your bureaucrats! This is a disgrace! For shame!

I then pasted the links from this post into the box and sent it.

It'll be interesting to see if they reply and/or cover this.

Perhaps other MeFites will do the same?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:27 AM on March 16, 2011


Do you really think making those sorts of comments are helpful?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:36 AM on March 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


*withholds comment due to the fact that censors would have to delete it for expletive use anyway*
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:38 AM on March 16, 2011


I don't blame them after that whole Gojira thing.
posted by Gungho at 11:40 AM on March 16, 2011


This is a disgrace! For shame!

That seems a little over the top. I'm sure the men and women who are sorting through the red tape right now are working as hard as possible to get it resolved. Random J. Bureaucrat doesn't get to change laws on their own say-so. Greater visibility of the problem is fine as it may cause someone with more power to help get it resolved. However, the implication that someone is being lazy or obstructionist just for the hell of it while their countrymen are suffering isn't warranted by anything in the linked stories.
posted by Babblesort at 11:53 AM on March 16, 2011


It actually appears the Swiss teams have come, searched with their dogs, and left already.
posted by stefanie at 11:56 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oooh, thanks for the find, stefanie. Gone already, though? I know the clock has been ticking, but it breaks my heart.
posted by anya32 at 12:10 PM on March 16, 2011


Japan is one of only a few rabies-free nations in the world, and the strict quarantine rules are the reason why. I hope the SAR dogs get expedited, but at the same time, I can see why the first team that arrived got tangled in red tape. Like Babblesort said, the people at customs can't just make up rules by fiat...

That dog-vigil video is amazing -- reminds me of Hachiko. Some of the Japanese running commentary (before they realize the other dog is alive) goes "oh, I just can't watch", and that about sums it up. So sad, and then so happy!
posted by vorfeed at 12:19 PM on March 16, 2011


I know quarantine laws are important, but it just seems like these would be the healthiest, best-cared for, most well-documented dogs you could find in the world, who are there just to help. But I guess it's good to not let careful prudence go all to hell just because everyone's scared.
posted by amethysts at 12:32 PM on March 16, 2011


I know quarantine laws are important, but it just seems like these would be the healthiest, best-cared for, most well-documented dogs you could find in the world, who are there just to help.

If you only knew how much damage phrases starting with "it just seems..." have caused.
posted by eriko at 1:04 PM on March 16, 2011


Do you really think making those sorts of comments are helpful?

@KokuRyu: Actually, I do. My thought was that it might stand out from other messages sent through this page and get the attention of an intern and ultimately a reporter on the NHK staff. My (very limited) understanding of Japanese culture is that public embarrassment (eg. by a news team) is a very strong motivating force.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:26 PM on March 16, 2011


I'd focus on other more pressing issues, such as getting medical help, food, water, medicine, gasoline, elderly care, water treatment, clothing, fuel... I'd focus on that first.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:41 PM on March 16, 2011


No doubt, but I kinda figure there's no bureaucratic bottleneck holding those things up.

What frustrates me is I can just imagine a bunch of people up and down the chain of command all saying they want to do the right thing, but no one willing to stick their neck out to do it. I think it's the nature of large organizations around the world, but shining a light on it sometimes helps.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:49 PM on March 16, 2011


ZenMasterThis, this isn't a grar party. There are people suffering, for real. Commenting on a news site in English based on some article somewhere else does not count as "shining a light" on anything, it just adds to the confusion, and in any case stefanie's links suggest that the issue has already been resolved. The news and rescue organizations have more important things to focus on right now.

You don't read or speak Japanese, you don't have the latest facts. I'm sure you meant well, but telling random NHK staff to feel "shame" won't help, and misinformation during a disaster can cost more lives.
posted by No-sword at 2:03 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who let the dogs in! Woof, woof, woof, woof woof!
posted by exogenous at 2:30 PM on March 16, 2011


"If you only knew how much damage phrases starting with "it just seems..." have caused."
Indeed, hence the sentence immediately following the first one.
posted by amethysts at 4:07 PM on March 16, 2011


This was also the case in the New Zealand quake that happened recently.

And so it should be. Anything that messes up our agricultural and horticultural industries has the potential to basically kill our entire economy. It would cause much wider spread and longer lasting hurt than the earthquakes in Christchurch did. It looks like Japan is sorting this out now, but there are very real, long lasting consequences of getting it wrong so I have no issue with them thinking about what they're doing.

I don't think people in non-island nations quite get how important this stuff is. I spent the last five years sharing an office with a bioprotection team working to deal with the pests already introduced here (I didn't work with them, just listening to their conversations), and it really is a difficult, expensive problem.
posted by shelleycat at 4:28 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sadly, this isn't at all surprising. Any culture with a hint of Confucian influence sure does love their goddamn triplicate, red-stamped pile of documents for even the simplest of things, let alone something that might actually save lives.
posted by bardic at 8:15 PM on March 16, 2011


Sadly, this isn't at all surprising. Any culture with a hint of Confucian influence sure does love their goddamn triplicate, red-stamped pile of documents for even the simplest of things, let alone something that might actually save lives.

Care to explain how New Zealand has a hint of Confucian influence? Seriously, this seems to be an important issue for island nations -- let them do what they need to do without focusing unnecessarily on one tiny part of the rescue effort.
posted by peacheater at 8:23 PM on March 16, 2011


Peacheater, although I don't personally buy that Confucian influence implies red tape, it is not the same thing as red tape implies Confucian influence.
posted by iconjack at 8:30 PM on March 16, 2011


Any culture with a hint of Confucian influence sure does love their goddamn triplicate, red-stamped pile of documents for even the simplest of things, let alone something that might actually save lives.

Except that, letting animals into a country like Japan or New Zealand isn't the simplest of things. The PSA outbreak in NZ last year (it's a kiwifruit disease) showed how even a relatively limited pest incursion can cause huge, expensive problems with long reaching consequences. Something that affects mammals is likely to be a lot more damaging.

You only have to get it wrong once and it can never be undone.
posted by shelleycat at 9:55 PM on March 16, 2011


Yeah. 'Cause that's more important than finding someone's family members buried alive in rubble.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:01 PM on March 17, 2011


Um, yeah, actually the entire economic health of a country for the foreseeable future and beyond sometimes is more important than one family. Sucks that that choice ever has to be made, but sometimes that's the way it goes. It's a balance, and it makes sense to put some amount of effort into getting that balance right.

Both Japan and NZ have urban search and rescue teams of their own and human teams were allowed to enter the country, so it's not like nothing was happening in the meantime. And it was a delay to letting the other teams in rather than total prevention, so things did get moving after a few days.
posted by shelleycat at 8:28 PM on March 17, 2011


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