It has taken me a week to decide whether I should talk about this or not, but as it has been a week and it is still bothering me, here goes.
David and I went to the shelter last weekend to volunteer and gather some supplies for a fundraiser we will be doing later in Iwaki, while we were there, I spotted a man kicking his dog. At first I simply assumed that it was my eyes playing tricks on me, as it had already been a long weekend, and who in their right mind would abuse an animal across the street from a shelter? But that's when it happened... this man threw his dog as hard as he could into the ground, in front of his 2 small children.
David and a Japanese volunteer came over to talk with him, but he spent his entire time denying it and saying that I had tried to steal his dog and attacked him, our Japanese volunteer even apologized to him for my actions, while I just sobbed.
We were told later that while it was sad, we could do nothing to stop this man since there were no visible wounds on the animal and since I had "attacked" him. In Japan, the foreigner always looses against the native.
I spent much of the rest of my time that day closed up with some of ours animals, crying.
During the nearly 3 years that I worked with the SPCA back in the US, I saw lots of animals come through that had been badly abused, some had terrible physical scars, others only had mental ones, but all of them had been noticeably effected. I just kept thinking of my time with those cowering animals and how much it had pained me to know they had been hurt by some heartless bastard, and how utterly wrong it was that this man got to walk away with an animal that he will most likely abuse for the rest of its life, or until he gets sick of it and throws it away, like so many other animals in this nation. This incident especially struck me, because while I have worked with abused animals for a long time, I had actually somehow never seen it happen first hand, so seeing someone do it so calmly, and right across the street from our shelter no less, shook me to the core.
Anyways, it still replays through my head over and over again, and I find myself praying for that poor small dog. Now, enough sadness, here is a picture of Chachamaru, who was found over a year into the disaster, covered in parasites, very underweight, with dislocated legs, and a big smile. Animals like him are what keep us going.
Fun fact: We personally spend around $200/month in travel costs to volunteer and rescue.