Animal Welfare Groups Update Japan Relief Efforts

Posted: March 24, 2011, 7:55 p.m., EDT



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Three animal welfare organizations updated their efforts to support animal relief efforts in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami that struck the country earlier in March.

The Boston-based World Society for the Protection of Animals pledged $150,000 to assist Japan’s Animal Disaster Response Team (ADRT), a group of Japanese animal groups, in providing relief to animals affected by the disasters, and the Washington, D.C.-based American Humane Association (AHA) has provided $10,000 in cash and a shipment of animal sheltering supplies to the Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Japan Animal Welfare Society, which is also part of the ADRT.

Those agencies, along with the Japan Pet Care Association and the Japan Veterinary Medical Association, have formed the Headquarters for the Relief of Animals in Emergencies, AHA reported.

“The outpouring of donations from compassionate people all across the country is enabling us to send this initial support as we finalize plans for how we can best assist in this critical animal relief effort,” said Robin Ganzert, Ph.D., AHA’s  president and CEO, adding that all donations received for Japan animal relief will help animal victims in Japan and that the association would not deduct administrative costs from such donations.

“American Humane Association’s emergency services grant and supply donation will help our animal rescue partners in Japan provide manpower, materials and financial assistance for animal victims of these disasters,” said Debrah Schnackenberg, AHA’s senior vice president of emergency services. “We’re proud to support the exceptional work they have done in securing shelter locations in three cities, coordinating with local veterinary groups, and staging the depoloyment of supplies. We are eager for animal emergency rescuers to deploy into the disaster zone, as soon as it is safe enough to do so.”

Meanwhile, rescuers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), based in Yarmouth Port, Mass., have mobilized to Japan to conduct an assessment and assist with animal rescue efforts, the IFAW reported.

“The humanitarian needs remain overwhelming but given the important role that companion animals play in the Japanese family and the important role that livestock plays in the Japanese economy, it’s important that we address the issues immediately,” said IFAW’s disaster manager Dick Green. Because the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is dealing with most livestock issues, IFAW will focus on providing assistance to backyard livestock in areas cut off by the disaster and wildlife in zoos and rehabilitation centers, as well as local rescue groups and veterinarians, the group reported.

The WSPA’s commitment follows an initial assessment by its disaster response team, which estimated about 10 percent of roughly 350,000 people staying in evacuation centers had brought animals with them. The WSPA estimates more than 30,000 dogs and cats were in need of shelter.

Specifically, WSPA will focus on setting up 30 temporary shelters near human evacuation centers within the next one to three months, the group reported. The shelters will provide tents, feeding bowls, pet food and veterinary services with the goal of enabling pet owners to continue to care for their animals.

“Many Japanese families include well-loved pets and, in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, people made every attempt to protect their animals,” said Lindsay Fyffe, WSPA’s disaster response manager. “Now, Japanese authorities are challenged with providing temporary housing for both evacuees and their pets. Our disaster relief effort is committed to helping ADRT alleviate this problem and provide both shelter and care to the thousands of animals—and their families—who are in need.”

Rescue workers and animal groups still have not assessed the situation in Fukushima Prefecture due to radiation-related safety concerns, according to the WPSA.

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