YARMOUTH PORT, Mass. (PRNewswire) — Rescuers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare have mobilized to Japan to conduct an assessment and assist with animal rescue efforts following the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
“The humanitarian needs remain overwhelming, but given the important role that companion animals play in the Japanese family and the important role that livestock plays in the Japanese economy, it’s important that we address the issues immediately,” said IFAW Disaster Manager Dr. Dick Green. “IFAW has reached out to local rescue groups, veterinary associations, and governmental agencies and is determining the best way to assist in the relief process.”
The official death toll reached 9,811 with an additional 17,541 people still missing. The U.N. reports that more than 350,000 people are taking shelter in 2,300 evacuation centers in the affected areas.
“People were not able to bring their animals with them when they left the affected area, so we anticipate that the evacuation centers may need help caring for and finding homes for those displaced animals,” added Green. “We also know that there will be a large number of animals that survived the earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that will need rescue.”
The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is addressing most of the livestock issues, but IFAW will look to provide assistance to backyard livestock in areas that have been cut off by the devastation.
One of IFAW’s goals in Japan will be to meet with representatives from local rescue groups and the veterinary community to discuss potential collaborative opportunities with the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition or NARSC.
NARSC is composed of most of the national NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in the U.S. that provide emergency animal services and has agreed to collaborate and cooperate on how resources from the U.S. will be channeled into Japan. This will allow IFAW and NARSC colleagues to identify long-term animal relief projects in Japan.
Collectively, the group has the greatest amount of animal rescue experience in the world and will be in a position to provide subject matter experts and advise local groups who are planning larger recovery projects.
IFAW will also check in with the various groups associated with wildlife in zoos and rehabilitation centers to see if they need additional support with their animal care.
This is IFAW’s third emergency response effort in Japan. In 1995, IFAW responded to the Kobe earthquake; two years later an oiled-wildlife rescue team deployed to Fukui Prefecture after the Nakhodka spill.
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org or follow the group on Facebook and Twitter.