Toshio Suzuki described yesterday’s reunion at the animal shelter he heads in the tsunami-wrecked Miyagi region of northern Japan. The owner of the two-year-old mixed breed named Ban saw last Friday’s rescue on television.
The woman was not identified for privacy reasons. Suzuki said she has an adult daughter and that the family suffered tsunami damage but was not specific.
Public broadcaster NHK aired images of the reunion with the woman hugging Ban and the dog warmly wagging her tail.
A coast guard helicopter crew spotted Ban more than two kilometres off the tsunami-hit town of Kesennuma in Miyagi. It wasn’t known how long the dog had been at sea.
Suzuki says the shelter keeps 19 dogs and several cats separated from their owners after the March 11 tsunami.
The woman recognised her pet, which was kept in an animal shelter following its rescue late last week, after watching the rescue on television:
“I recognised her immediately after seeing her face,” she said, hugging the animal.
“I am happy that she seems healthy. I want to cherish her when I take her back,” she added, as Ban licked her face.
The Japan Coast Guard is still searching for thousands of people missing after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck.
The twin disasters killed 12,175 people and 15,489 remain missing, national police said.
The rescue of the dog was widely broadcast as a rare happy moment amid the calamity of Japan’s biggest ever disaster.