Reaching Out to Japan

Offering advice and aid

Humane Society International

  • Feeding a hungry dog. HSI

  • Examining a woman’s dog. Ed Papazian

  • A man rests with his pet at his side. Ed Papazian

  • Temporary housing. Ed Papazian

  • A scene of beauty in the midst of devastation. HSI

  • Women in a shelter with their dog. Ed Papazian

  • Posters advertising rescued animals. Ed Papazian

  • A dog is checked for radiation. Ed Papazian

  • Visiting survivors. Ed Papazian

March 11, 2013

Two years after the disaster, HSI was still supporting animals in need.

March 8, 2012

One year after the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident that threw Japan into chaos and killed or displaced hundreds of thousands of people and animals, HSI moved ahead with our long-term commitment to helping improve animal care and welfare infrastructure in the affected zones of the island nation.

by Bernard Unti

September 29, 2011

Nearly six months after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, HSI staff made a follow-up visit to Tokyo to discuss long-term aid, including construction of a new animal shelter.

June 1, 2011

A Japanese animal organization recently reported that the Japanese government’s support for rescue of animals in the evacuation area in Japan has been poor. Read more.

April 12, 2011 

Having completed their impact assessments, provided crucial training and support to Japanese responders, and helped to foster a unified command approach, the first group of HSI disaster responders headed home after two weeks in the field in Japan and another week in the Philippines preparing for their mission. We remain committed to longer-term assistance. Read more.

April 8, 2011

The HSI disaster response team is now operating in Fukushima Prefecture, working with Japanese animal welfare partners at the perimeter of the no-access zone established near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station by Japan’s military and police authorities. Read more.

April 5, 2011

HSI disaster responders continued to work with Japanese partner organizations on an incident command structure appropriate to the disaster, and prepared for their third field assessment of animal-related issues, including the challenge of luring skittish animals out of the disaster zone and into locations where they can be taken in and treated through feeding programs and other strategies. Read more.

April 4, 2011

HSI’s disaster response team is now operating in Niigata, on Japan’s western coast, and working within the coalition established by the Japan Animal Welfare Society to develop a unified command framework for emergency response and near-term recovery. Read more.

March 30, 2011

The HSI disaster response team has met with representatives from the Japan Animal Welfare Society, the leader of the animal-related response coalition.

A 30km limit has been established outside of the devastated areas. Three animal control centers are accepting animals from inside the disaster zone. Two HSI team members are traveling to Niigata to meet with staff of the centers, and, if possible, with personnel from the nearby human shelters, to integrate our efforts with theirs.

The individuals most active in the response are Japanese veterinarians who were already in the zone and who have authorization to remain there to help animals in need. When an animal is received at one of the animal control centers, he or she is scanned, processed and often shipped to a veterinary hospital as far away as Tokyo.

The coalition plans to create emergency/temporary shelters for animals near some of the 2,000 existing human shelters. HSI will play a role in determining how many of these facilities are accepting pets, how many animal shelters are needed, and where to distribute incoming supplies from the Philippines.

March 25, 2011

HSI’s disaster response team will arrive in Japan on March 28 to continue their work to help animals affected by the ongoing crisis that began with an earthquake March 11. The group will establish emergency sheltering operations in cooperation with Japanese and international partners, coordinate distribution of the $120,000 worth of supplies HSI has shipped to Japan, and provide direct care to animals as necessary. The four-person team is led by HSI veteran disaster responder Kelly Coladarci. Coladarci was assisting in a veterinary training in the Philippines when the earthquake occurred and immediately shifted her focus to planning for HSI deployment and response to Japan’s animal care needs.

HSI’s efforts in Japan are partially being funded through The Animal Rescue Site, which is raising money to help animals impacted by the disaster in Japan. Funds are distributed through a partnership with to responding charities.

March 23, 2011

Less than two weeks into Japan’s triple calamity of earthquake, tsunami, and radiation release, Humane Society International has already made a $50,000 grant to a coalition partner, arranged for the purchase and shipment of $120,000 in supplies, and helped to set the stage for emergency sheltering operations in the devastated areas of northeastern Japan. Read more.

March 22, 2011

Our Japanese correspondent sent along this account from a veterinarian working in the disaster zone:

We picked up supplies in the city of Morioka and traveled toward the coast to the disaster area, where people are still gathered in auditoriums and other refugee centers.

We face two major challenges: taking in animals who have lost their owners, and helping people who managed to survive with their pets.

Help ensure we can be there for animals affected by disaster

Depending on the facility, there are some refugee centers with many accompanying pets, while others have no animals. Unfortunately, with time passing, some complaints have arisen from the non-owners about the pets. Cats are especially difficult to house. One clinic in the Miyako area is currently caring for 35 animals, the maximum number they can handle. The chief issues they have seen are upset stomachs and infections.

We were able to cover about 70 kilometers. It was invaluable to have a local vet serving as our guide, and our strong feeling at this time is that the best way to contribute to rescue efforts is to offer viable support to local veterinarians.

It is very difficult to get information about animals from authorities, as they are inundated with “people requests.” The local vets are the only resources available for knowing just where the animals are, aside from any information gleaned from people we happen to come across.

March 21, 2011

Today, HSI pressed forward with our response to animal-related needs in Japan in the wake of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake. Our initial relief package of $170,000 includes direct grants, purchase and shipment of emergency supplies, and help with planning and implementation of temporary sheltering facilities in the disaster zone.

Since March 12, members of the HSI Disaster Response Team providing veterinary training in the Philippines have been communicating and working with Japanese animal welfare groups and other international animal welfare organizations, such as World Vets, to identify and meet the most urgent and immediate needs of animals and those trying to help them.

The HSI team has taken steps to purchase and send $120,000 worth of essential supplies requested from the ground, including dog kennels, collars, bowls and animal food, from the Philippines to Japan, through a generous offer of free shipment from Philippine Air.

HSI is also making an emergency grant of $50,000 to the Japan Animal Welfare Society (JAWS), to procure available emergency sheltering supplies in Japan and to support individual veterinarians helping with pet rescue and care in the disaster area.

Kelly Coladarci, lead disaster responder for HSI, identified the first priority of her team’s response in a note sent to colleagues: “We are talking with local organizations about increasing emergency sheltering capacity and looking at opportunities to support the animal rescue and care provided by individual veterinary hospitals.”

HSI’s Japan response builds upon the lessons and legacy of our prior work in a host of international disaster scenarios, including:

  • 2010: HSI teams respond to the earthquake in Haiti with on-the-ground and long-term response
  • 2008: HSI teams respond to disasters in India (monsoon and dam break), China (earthquake), Myanmar (cyclone), and Chile (volcano eruption)
  • 2007 HSI teams respond to severe flooding in the states of Tabasco and Chiapas, Mexico
  • 2005- HSI teams respond to earthquakes in India and Pakistan, and to flooding in India
  • 2005- HSI teams work with parent organization The Humane Society of the United States in full-scale direct response to Hurricane Katrina, with multi-million dollar program of immediate and long-term aid
  • 2004 – HSI responds to Indian Ocean tsunami with major program of direct response, and relief and reconstruction aid

Read more about HSI’s disaster response work in recent years.

March 17, 2011

President and CEO Wayne Pacelle of The Humane Society of the United States, HSI’s partner in disaster response, shares his thoughts on help for the people and animals of Japan.

March 14, 2011

In the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami double-strike that battered Japan’s northern coast and set off a mounting toll of death and destruction, Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States have deployed disaster response staff to the region, and reached out to Japanese partner organizations involved with animal care and rescue to identify where and how best to provide emergency support and veterinary attention.

HSI Lead Disaster Responder Kelly Coladarci is in the Philippines and has contacted Japanese organizations to help them evaluate all animal-related needs. Moreover, both HSI and The HSUS will provide aid to various Japanese organizations, supporting their efforts to assess the scope of the disaster’s effects on animals, to purchase and transport essential supplies, and to establish appropriate shelters and other needed bases of operation in or near the strike zone. The explosions that have rocked the two nuclear reactors at Fukushima may also swell the numbers of people and pets requiring emergency evacuation or already displaced in the midst of crisis.

The disaster’s destructive physical force and rising human death totals are horribly evident, and its impact upon animals is sure to be high, necessitating rapid deployment and response. Time and time again, whether after the Indonesian tsunami, the Haiti, Pakistan and Szechuan earthquakes, or Hurricane Katrina, we have witnessed the early focus on human need gradually expand to include the interests and needs of animals in distress. As the animal-related impacts of the crisis become clearer in Japan, we’ll be ready.

March 12, 2011

HSI has been in communication with local organizations on the ground, extending our offer of assistance. We have been in touch with the Japan Animal Welfare Society, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and with several veterinary hospitals throughout Japan. Currently, the focus is on humanitarian rescue; however, our contacts are trying to learn about animal needs and are keeping HSI updated. HSI is also in touch with the major international animal protection organizations, sharing information on our intended response and opportunities for aid. Give to help.

Bernard Unti, Ph.D, is senior policy advisor and special assistant to the CEO/president of The Humane Society of the United States.

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