Research press release


Scientific Reports

Animal behaviour: How did the Fukushima disaster affect pet dogs?

2011年の福島第一原子力発電所事故後に福島県内で置き去りにされた犬と日本国内の他の地域で置き去りにされた犬について、その行動とストレスホルモン「コルチゾール」の濃度に関する比較研究が行われた。福島県内で置き去りにされた犬の行動応答と内分泌応答の結果からは、極度のストレスを受けた時期を過ごしたことが示唆されており、こうした応答は、再社会化訓練と介護を受けた後も続いていた。この結果を報告する論文が、Scientific Reportsに掲載される。




A comparison of the behaviour and levels of the stress hormone cortisol in dogs abandoned after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011 and those abandoned in another region of Japan is published in the journal Scientific Reports. The behavioural and endocrine responses of dogs from the Fukushima region suggest they underwent a period of extreme stress, which persisted even after resocialization training and care.

The Tohoku earthquake of 11 March 2011 and subsequent nuclear incident has left around 340,000 Japanese people living as refugees. The accident and prolonged refugee situation has also led to the unintentional abandonment of many pets. Students at the University of Azabu have been conducting a program to place dogs from a rescue centre in Kanagawa with new owners, after the provision of psychosomatic care in a training facility. In 2011, these services were also provided for disaster-affected dogs from Fukushima.

During resocialization training, Miho Nagasawa, Kazutaka Mogi and Takefumi Kikusui assessed the dogs’ behavioural characteristics and urine cortisol levels. They found that compared to dogs from Kanagawa, the Fukushima dogs showed significantly lower levels of aggression towards unfamiliar people, lower trainability and lower attachment to carers. The urine cortisol levels of the Fukushima dogs were also five to ten times higher, a trend which persisted even after 10 weeks, suggesting the disaster had a prolonged impact on these animals.

As the study was based on a limited number of samples, it was difficult to eliminate factors other than the experience of the disaster in Fukushima, the authors caution. The Fukushima dogs were relatively older than the others, for example, although the authors found no age-related effects, suggesting the dogs’ experience after the disaster was the most significant factor. Further research is needed into the long-term impacts of disasters on pets, the authors conclude.

doi: 10.1038/srep00724

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