The tragedy in Japan has touched the hearts of people around the world and prompted many to ask how they might support the people and animals affected. In situations like this, help, expertise and resources are desperately needed, and it is crucial that relief efforts are properly organized and carried out effectively by trusted groups experienced in disaster response.
The National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC) was established in 2006 as an outgrowth of the unprecedented U.S. disaster season of 2005, which included Hurricane Katrina. In the aftermath of that season, the major national animal protection organizations in the U.S. developed a working coalition to facilitate responses to large-scale incidents and address ongoing concerns. This coalition represents more than 15 million animal care and control professionals, volunteers and pet owners.
Participants in NARSC include the most-experienced, qualified animal rescue and sheltering management professionals in the country. Member agencies have cooperatively responded nationally and internationally to wildfires, floods, ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters; as well as man-made animal disasters, including puppy mills and hoarding situations.
Due to the safety risks and the complexity of the disaster response effort, the Japanese government has not yet requested international organizations for large-scale animal rescue operations. However, discussions are currently under way to obtain invitations for NARSC members to deploy to the stricken areas with animal response teams. It is the policy of NARSC members and other legitimate animal welfare organizations to not deploy without a formal invitation from the responsible government/agency. This policy is for the safety of both the victims and the responders.
Relief and rescue on the ground in Japan is an extraordinarily complex effort. In addition to the challenges and risks presented by the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, the radiation dangers from the stricken nuclear power plant have made the situation even more challenging.
In the meantime, we are pooling our collective expertise and resources so we are prepared to assist well-qualified local groups on the ground in Japan when needed. Financial and other aid has been sent, including vitally needed animal care supplies, and we are looking at ways we can support local organizations’ recovery efforts that will help animals well into the future.
If you are interested in supporting the relief efforts in Japan, please visit the websites of individual NARSC members to learn about donation opportunities.
To learn more about NARSC, please visit the NARSC website.
Read American Humane Association’s blog for the latest update on our Japan animal relief efforts.
Debrah Schnackenberg, Senior Vice President, Emergency Services, discusses the animal relief situation in Japan three weeks after the March 11 earthquake.