Epidemiological Evaluation of Dogs Rescued in the Fukushima Prefecture Following the Great East Japan Earthquakes of 2011

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Introduction Dogs left behind in the restricted area by the Great East Japan Earthquakes of 2011 (Fukushima Prefecture, Japan) were initially rescued at a temporary first response shelter under chaotic conditions: poor housing and husbandry was maintained by unfamiliar/untrained staff, and lack of exercise was associated with deterioration of the mental and physical health of the impounded dogs. The objectives of this study were to report characteristics, disposition, and health status of dogs rescued in the Fukushima Prefecture, and to perform a retrospective epidemiological evaluation of factors associated with disposition and disease incidence at shelters.Problems The problems addressed in this study were shelter-related health issues at the first response shelter and reasons for retained adoption at the secondary shelter that caused delayed closure of the shelter.Methods A retrospective cohort study was performed with all dogs that were rescued from the restricted area in the Fukushima Prefecture. Kaplan-Meier time-to-event analysis was performed to estimate the median days to outcomes. A chi-square test of homogeneity was used to determine whether ownership status was associated with breed. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to assess the association between time-to-adoption with ownership status, age, sex, and breed, the association between time to onset of diarrhea with age and breed, and between duration of diarrheic symptoms with the number of antibiotics and the number of medications.Results Five-hundred and twenty-nine dogs were admitted to the Ihno and Miharu shelters (Fukushima Prefecture), including 179 that had detailed medical records. Seventy-six percent of dogs were mixed breed. Twenty-six percent of dogs had verified ownership, and almost 16% of dogs were reclaimed by their owners. Sixty-six percent of dogs developed diarrhea, and 17 different antibiotics were used to treat it. Using three or more different antibiotics was associated with prolonged signs of diarrhea. Dogs with verified ownership took longer for adoption than those without verified ownership. Breed and sex were not significantly associated with time to adoption. Age was associated with prolonged time to adoption.Conclusion To improve the welfare of dogs in disasters, responsible owner education, a well-organized registered volunteer training program for care of animals at shelters, proper disease management protocols, and enrichment strategies to prevent stress and disease in shelter setting are essential. TanakaA, Martinez-LopezB, KassP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-483
Number of pages6
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • disaster
  • disease incidence
  • dogs
  • outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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