The Study of Human-Animal Interactions The CAIRC Scholarship Program Summary of the Past Researches
Summary of the Past Scholarship Research
From "Letter from CAIRC" July 2003
Research Theme: "In search of the Hidden Abilities of Animals:
A Consideration of the Ability of Dogs to Forecast Earthquakes"
 
By Hideo Akiyoshi
D.V.M., doctoral student in the Laboratory of Veterinary Surgery, Graduate School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, Osaka Prefecture University
According to a study conducted after the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake that struck on January 17, 1995, dogs and cats in the Kobe area near the epicenter were reported to have been acting strangely. Akiyoshi thought that this might be caused by their ability to sense earthquake precursor phenomena:

“It wasn’t just dogs and cats, but also birds, fish, insects and other animals that were seen behaving abnormally before this earthquake. We thought that they might be reacting to electromagnetic wave disruptions that precede an earthquake, and conducted research on the hearts of rats and bullfrogs based on that hypothesis. Electromagnetic waves were found to be able to reduce adrenaline levels in the blood of rats, while the heart rates of bullfrogs were reduced. We began our project by observing the behavior of eight laboratory-raised beagles while bombarding them with electromagnetic waves. We were, however, unable to recognize any significant differences in this experiment. There are several conceivable reasons for this. The beagle, a dog breed that is often used in laboratory experiments, has undergone so many manmade modifications that it has lost many of the characteristics of the dog species, including individual characteristics. In addition, the artificial stress of laboratory conditions such as living in cages and the extraction of blood samples could easily have outstripped the stress of the electromagnetic wave bombardment. We also decided that it would be necessary to adjust the intensity of the electromagnetic waves as well as exposure times in order to simulate the wave patterns that precede a real earthquake.

By keeping those problems in mind, Akiyoshi conducted the second experiment by using the dogs that were trained in the environment similar to the general pet dogs.

“We therefore changed from a continuous wave to a pulsed wave and varied the intensity among several stages of bombardment. We also got rid of the cages, enabling the dogs to roam freely throughout the laboratory and opted for stress-free urine testing methods instead of extracting blood samples. Experimental results included behaviors that were abnormal for these dogs, such as scratching of the body with the hind legs, and biting of the forelegs for about 30 seconds at a time. Changes in levels of catecholamine and noradrenaline in the urine were also detected. Of course, it goes without saying that animals exhibit individual variation, so these biological responses were not uniform. I do believe, however, that we have confirmed abnormal behavior resulting from the fact that animals are somehow able to detect phenomena that presage an impending earthquake.”
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