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March 10, 2013

Two Years After Tohoku, Aid Continues

Humane Society International

  • Dr. Aoki of the Japanese Coalition for Animal Welfare and Dr. Rowan of HSI discuss the upcoming symposium to be held in Japan. Japanese Coalition for Animal Welfare

by Sakiko Yamazaki

Two years after the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident, people and animals are still recovering from the aftermath of the unprecedented disaster. HSI has continued offering support to improve the welfare of the animals in the impacted areas and Dr. Andrew Rowan, HSI’s president & CEO, visited recently to check in on the progress of our projects.

Sheltering pets

Our chief contribution was to help fund construction of a shelter in Fukushima Prefecture for the animals displaced within the evacuation zone established as a consequence of the nuclear accident. Fukushima Shelter still boards 268 cats and 70 dogs¹ either waiting to be reunited with their families or seeking loving new homes.

Gathering data

Another HSI-backed endeavor is to document the lessons learned from these events. We commissioned a team of Japanese researchers, led by Dr. Nobuhiko Ito of Kitasato University, to investigate the impact of the nuclear accident on animals and to review the animal rescue efforts that followed. During his trip, Dr Rowan took part in a press conference to publicize a symposium to be co-hosted by HSI and the Japanese Coalition for Animal Welfare in August that will serve as an opportunity to share the lessons learned for application to future animal relief efforts.

HSI is also continuing to work on a survey of disaster-affected pet owners in Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures to understand their situations and the aid that they have been receiving. The preliminary results of the survey suggest that while many owners had prepared for disasters by stocking up on supplies and materials, only 50 percent have actually utilized animal-related support provided by various organizations, and many respondents felt that the support that they needed has not been provided.

Funding partners

Lastly, HSI continues to fund local animal protection organizations that provide direct help to pets and their owners in disaster-impacted communities. In 2012, HSI provided a grant to Save Animals in Iwate. This group of local veterinarians and animal protection organizations, which subsidizes veterinary care for pets and their owners in the coastal cities of Iwate devastated by the tsunami, dealt with more than 400 cases from April 2012 to January 2013.

HSI will continue to provide support to Japan to care for animals in need and to document and share the lessons learned from this disaster so that they can be applied to future animal relief efforts.

¹Numbers as of the end of January 2013, from Fukushima Prefecture.

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