Ex-vet returns from Far East

Stuart Easby
Stuart Easby

A RETIRED vet has returned from Japan where he helped stricken animals affected by recent disasters which hit the country.

The population had to be evacuated from the area surrounding the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after it was hit by a tsunami because of the leaking radiation.

But many family pets and farm animals were abandoned with no food and water in the 20km exclusion zone.

Stuart Easby, who lives near Bugthorpe, said: “These things have an affect on animals and I thought I’d go and find out for myself.”

He asked organisations working in the area if there was anything he could do to help and the answer was “yes.” The 62-year-old said: “The whole idea of animal welfare is somewhat different in this country – but that’s changing.

“There are a lot of people interested in animal welfare but hundreds of thousands of animals were just left to starve. They were told they had to leave. They weren’t given much option.”

He added that some people had left dried food with the animals but they were not allowed back to make sure they were okay. He said: “When you’ve got 300 cattle in a shed there’s not much chance for them.

“The real tragedy for this whole situation is what’s happened here was the start of the biggest live animal experiment that’s happened anywhere in the world – and the evidence is being allowed to die.”

Mr Easby, who founded Battle Flatts Veterinary Clinic in Stamford Bridge, said that it was a different situation to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 because the plant did not use plutonium but they still had to take precautions such as wearing protective suits, using Geigar counters and taking regular showers.

He said: “The dogs that we picked up were screening fairly high but a lot of the cats didn’t show radiation at all.

The dogs had been outside eating contaminated food and being contaminated by the fallout in the atmosphere.”

While he was working in the area he was exposed to radiation levels 20 times higher than the normal background level but he said people should not be alarmed by the figure.

He said: “It’s an accumulative thing. I was in Japan for eight days and spent five days inside the exclusion zone.

“For the five days I was there I’d have picked up the normal level that I would have picked up in 100 days.”

Mr Easby added that he tried not to think of the animals he could not have helped and concentrated on those he could help.

He said: “I found that if I concentrated on the animals I could help it made me feel good – if I concentrated on those I couldn’t help it makes you feel terrible.”

Since retiring in 2004, Mr Easby has been involved in a number of international mercy missions.

Last year he travelled to Pakistan for 10 weeks to help farmers keep their livestock alive following devastating floods.

The father of four, who runs an advice line called One Call Advice Direct Vet, has also made trips to the Middle East to work with a charity aiming to improve the plight of injured donkeys in Israel and Palestine.