Japan: Heading Home but Still Helping
PETA Asia senior campaigner Ashley Fruno has been in Japan helping many homeless animals, and she lent a hand at an animal shelter run by Animal Friends Niigata. Before returning home, she instructed the many new friends she had made to contact her if they needed anything. The following is her account of her last few days in Sendai:
I have left Japan, but my heart is still there. Up until the end, the smell of decaying flesh was still strong and undeniable in the disaster-stricken areas. We saw bodies being pulled out of a primary school last Friday, more than a week after the tsunami. My plane was full of people who were evacuating, and children were crying.
We have a wonderful group of helpers in Japan who care about the animals caught up in this horror. We are so happy to support Isabella Gallaon-Aoki of Animal Friends Niigata. Isabella is a strong soul, and while others were afraid of a second tsunami, radiation exposure, and earthquakes, Isabella drove with me into the worst-hit areas and stepped into the ruins with me, searching for animals. We spent day after day searching for animal survivors, taking in animals who couldn’t evacuate with their guardians and delivering dog and cat food and medicines to the evacuation shelters that were allowing animals.
We met a kind and wonderful veterinarian, Dr. Sasaki, who was desperate to go into the affected areas but didn’t have any gas. He called us for help and now has visited several evacuation centers. He is going to each of them one by one to provide treatment to injured animals and deliver food.
On the first night in his hard-hit area, Dr. Sasaki put us both up (which we were so grateful for because we would otherwise have been spending another freezing cold night in our car), and his wife made a lovely vegan meal for us from the scarce amount of food that they had. Isabella is continuing to bring Dr. Sasaki more fuel and veterinary supplies, and we are helping with that effort.
There is still much work to be done in Japan, and a PETA Asia volunteer, Ulara Nakagawa, is helping in Tokyo. Ulara is updating the Facebook pages of the local animal rescue groups with important messages about animals and supplies, and she is following up on tips about homeless animals as they come in. Although I have left, I am staying in touch with my new friends in Sendai—and PETA is helping them with additional food and supplies as needed.
To support PETA and PETA Asia’s lifesaving work in disaster-stricken areas, consider making a donation to PETA’s Animal Emergency Fund.
Written by Michelle Sherrow