How You Can Help Japan’s Injured and Homeless Animals

See how search dogs are helping people in Japan, and learn how to lend support to pet rescue groups working to bring care to traumatized, homeless animals.

Japanese man reunited with puppy after earthquake and tsunamivia

The picture here pretty much sums up the enormous emotional relief pet owners feel once they’re reunited with their missing four-legged companions.

Following Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, relief workers immediately began addressing human needs, but as it turns out, animals are also a part of rescue efforts, and they need our help, too.

Here’s how animals are assisting in disaster relief and how you can help Japan’s homeless, injured pets.

How Animals are Helping

Pet Captain reports that The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation has deployed 6 teams to Japan. The organization was founded in 1996 and seeks to strengthen disaster response by recruiting and pairing rescued dogs with firefighters and first responders. Disaster Search dogs are different from other public service dogs in that they  work off-leash, navigating treacherous terrain, and are also required to be certified by the U.S. government. In Japan, the dogs serve a critical role in helping to  locate people trapped in rubble. Learn more about the dogs and handlers deployed to Japan and view the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation’s donation page.

How to Help Animals

Tashirojima  (Cat Island)

People and cats on Tashirojima, known as the Cat Island due to its large population of stray cats, are reported to be safe but short on food. The Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support organization, a coalition of three animal rescue groups (HEART-Tokushima, Animal Garden Niigata, and Japan Cat Network) is aware of the situation and making efforts to help. For news on their efforts and to lend support, visit  Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support’s Facebook page.

Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK)

This Japanese animal rescue group’s efforts to help animals affected by the terrible disaster are underway. Elizabeth Oliver, ARK’s founder and chairman, reports that tragedy keeps unfolding but that ARK will accept as many homeless animals as possible. Many people in shelters will be forced to give up their surviving pets, as they have been left with nothing. Visit ARK’s site to learn how to donate via PayPal, or where to mail donations.

Pet Captain lists several other organizations working to help displaced and injured pets, including Japan Cat Network and the American Red Cross. View Pet Captain’s full list of links.

Plus: Visit AOL for a remarkable post about the canine heroes from the Los Angeles County Fire Department  and Fairfax County, Virginia, Urban Search and Rescue Team.

Sources: Pet Captain, The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation,,

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest