This guest post was written by Sharon Seltzer, one of the founders of the animal rescue group, Heaven Can Wait Sanctuary, for Care2 Causes.
While international relief organizations are pouring into Japan to help people after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, a handful of animal welfare groups are pulling together to take care of the nation's displaced pets.Japan is a country that loves pets so it is no surprise that rescue groups have teamed up to help the estimated thousands of cats, dogs and other animals that were injured or left homeless after the quake.
Assisting pets after a natural disaster is nothing new for Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK). The organization which has locations in Tokyo and Osaka took in 600 animals after the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995.
Elizabeth Oliver who chairs the group said, "Here at ARK we are preparing for what might be a huge influx of animals. We already have some facilities in place and a team of experienced staff able to deal with traumatised animals. We may have to build emergency shelters as well."
Ms. Oliver explained that rescuing many of the animals will be more difficult than the previous earthquake.
"The logistics of getting animals from the Tohoku/Sendai area is immense since roads and other transport links have been cut and may take time to restore. Our only means to get animals down to Osaka may be by helicopter, which was one method we used after the Kobe earthquake."
Three other rescue groups have joined together to save animals.
Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support is a collaboration of 3 No-Kill animal welfare organizations in Japan: HEART - Tokushima, Animal Friends Niigata and Japan Cat Network. The coalition quickly joined forces after the disaster struck.
Japan Cat Network posted on their website, "We are all greatly saddened and have been continually horrified by news of the devastation, following the recent earthquake here in Japan. We, the kitties at the JCN Kansai shelter, and the shelter itself, are all fine. However, we remain very concerned about the animals in the severely affected areas who may be overlooked in the midst of so much immediate need to address human concerns. We are working with two other no-kill organizations to coordinate plans for getting animals from these areas out to safety, and have already begun helping people with pets in crisis."
Organizations outside of Japan are coming to the aid of injured and homeless pets. World Veterinary Association, a nonprofit organization that provides global veterinary care has sent a first-responder team to treat animals.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is sending their own team of veterinarians on Tuesday. Their goal is to help pets whose families can't take care of them while they are being housed in temporary emergency shelters.
Dr. Ian Dacre and Dr. Damian Woodberry from WSPA are both veterans at saving animals after natural disasters.
The vets also have a meeting with the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to save wildlife caught in the aftermath of the quake and tsunami.
WSPA is coordinating their efforts with Kanagawa Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - another Japanese based organization.
And as with every disaster, heroes from the Search Dog Foundation are already on the ground with six Canine Disaster Search Teams locating people who are trapped in fallen buildings and other debris.
This guest post comes from Care2's Causes Channels, covering issues from Animal Welfare to Women's Rights and everything in between, and enabling its large online community to take action on issues they care about.
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Read more about the disaster in Japan:
Thousands of Nesting Albatross Swept Away By Tsunami
6 Important Questions About the Crisis at Japanese Nuclear Power Plants
Millions Saved in Japan By Good Engineering and Government Building Codes