Funding and fundraising efforts for animal rescue in Japan

In the wake of the devastating tsunami and earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, a great number of organizations have been seeking and mobilizing funds for disaster relief efforts. While the majority of these efforts have (understandably) focused on human victims, several organizations have sprung into action to help animal victims as well.

There are many outside the community of animal lovers who may wonder why resources would be directed toward animal welfare in the midst of a catastrophe that has destroyed so many human lives and created such immense humanitarian need. An article on Japanese animal rescue efforts in The Wall Street Journal offers what is perhaps the best explanation, quoting the head of Niigata-based nonprofit organization Animal Friends Niigata: “Saving people is the first priority, but we should not forget [that] animals do provide mental support…Some people lost everything, from their families to their house, and are left with nothing but their pets.” In other words, helping animal survivors represents a complementary form of assistance to human survivors.

With that said, it’s hard to know exactly where to turn if one wants to learn about which organizations are engaging in animal rescue in Japan—whether in the form of providing financial support or putting it to good use—since this represents a relatively small proportion of overall relief. Fortunately, Kelly Garbato’s EasyVegan blog offers a comprehensive overview of organizations active in Japan’s animal rescue effort, including information about choosing a reputable charity. Those seeking complete objectivity should be advised that Ms. Garbato’s findings reflect a vegan perspective and are therefore filtered through that particular lens. Regardless, the level of research and care she has invested into creating this resource is clear and commendable—I’ve been unable to find anything else of comparable scope on the Web thus far. Vegans may be interested to know that Ms. Garbato has also provided some information about which of the organizations focusing on the purely human component of the relief effort do and do not utilize animal-based medications and/or fund animal testing or vivisection.

The Foundation Center is offering news coverage of the philanthropic response and a constantly updated RSS feed of foundation grants for Japan relief, the vast majority of which focus on direct assistance to humans. As more grants are made and reported overall, however, increased levels of support specifically designated for animal rescue may emerge.

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