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PETA Asia-Pacific’s Rescue Efforts in Japan

Written by PETA | March 18, 2011

The first member of an international animal rights group to reach the disaster area, PETA Asia-Pacific senior campaigner Ashley Fruno has been in Japan with Isabella Gallaon-Aoki of Animal Friends Niigata since taking the first flight to Tokyo after the airport opened on Saturday night.

There are few signs of life in the hardest-hit areas, but Ashley and Isabella have encountered many citizens who have stayed in their badly damaged homes for days because many evacuation centers are not allowing companion animals inside. With countless people being forced to evacuate because of radiation fears and with animals being barred from many emergency shelters and flights out of the country, animal shelters like the one run by Isabella’s group are being inundated with animals.


In all their media interviews, Ashley and Isabella have been urging people never to leave their animals behind—if conditions aren’t safe for humans, they aren’t safe for animals either.

In addition to pitching in at the badly overtaxed Niigata shelter, Ashley has been providing food to animals left behind by evacuees as well as to animals whose guardians are having a hard time getting supplies because of long lines of hundreds of people waiting to get into stores. She is also working with local veterinarians to rescue and care for the few surviving animals they are able to find.

Here’s what Ashley has to say about her rescue efforts near the epicenter of the earthquake:

The tsunami ripped through the region with such force that cars were smashed into houses, debris was swept for miles through rice fields, and entire families drowned in their homes. In the hardest hit areas, we saw no animal life whatsoever. We did see some paw prints in the mud at one point, but they didn’t lead anywhere, and we could not find any animals nearby.

When we first arrived in Sendai, gasoline lines stretched for miles and hundreds of people were lined up outside supermarkets to gather whatever supplies they could from the nearly bare shelves. We came upon a woman carrying her dog, a young sheltie who was terrified and stressed by the earthquake and aftershocks and the chaos that ensued. Tears came to the woman’s eyes as she told us that she had risked her life for three days while staying in her still-shaking house because the evacuation center would not allow her to take her dog with her. She had finally been able to take her dog to a family member’s home in an area of the city that had not been hit by the tsunami.

We spent several hours searching for the two dogs who appeared in a highly publicized You Tube video. One of the dogs appeared to be sick or injured, and his friend was protecting him. Someone gave us a tip as to where they might be, but it appeared to be inaccurate, as it seemed unlikely that anyone could have survived in the named area. We were relieved to learn later that both dogs had been rescued—the healthier dog is now in a shelter, and the sick dog is in a veterinary clinic.


Ashley and Isabella continue to visit the worst-affected areas in search of animals who need help, and they remain in touch with the volunteer relief center, city office, and prefecture office, which plans to set up a temporary shelter for animals in the northern part of the city. Ashley reports that the most pressing issue now is finding temporary housing for animals whose families are homeless or who have been forced to evacuate.

You can help by sending a polite e-mail or fax to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and asking the U.S. Department of State to allow U. S. nationals to take their animal companions with them when they evacuate Japan. You can also help fund Ashley’s work and other rescue work by donating to PETA U.S.’ Animal Emergency Fund, which provides grants to organizations that do rescue work, including our affiliate PETA Asia-Pacific.

Commenting is closed.
  • miko says:

    Just to reiterate about CNN’s report about the animals being left behind to starve to death in the radiation area. CNN mentioned that there were independent groups working to save the animals. I hope PETA will coordinate with them and help our poor animal friends in these most distraught of times.

  • Carrie says:

    Last night (Apr 12th), CNN aired a peice on the animals left behind in the area surrounding the nuclear plant as people evacuated… some still tied to leashes. Please get in and save those animals! In the meantime, please find a way to provide them with food, water and shelter. These animals are starving to death and those that are tied up can’t even fend for themselves. I am sending you a financial donation and hope and pray you will use it to get in to this cut off area and rescue these animals. I can not imagine ever leaving my animals behind under any circumstance so I’m having a difficult time grasping this situation. Thanks for all the amazing work you are doing.

  • thelma says:

    Please keep us posted about these two beautiful dogs. Have you found their owner? Thank you PETA, keep the good work.

  • Marion says:

    Thank you so much for helping all the animals, especially in Japan at the moment. When I read about the two dogs looking after each other I was hoping and praying someone would try and find them, what a great thing on reading they are now safe. Also my heart goes out to all the good work you do for all the others, needing help and shelter. Thank you so much.

  • BETTY says:


  • kumakuma says:

    Dear Ashley and Isabella,thank you so much for rescuing animals!! I always consider Japan have to awake about treatment of animals. I am Japanese from Japan and I’m planning to go back to Japan 2012~3, and keep volunteering for dogs and cats. I really count PETA and hope to have a branch in Japan in the near future. The reality about animals is Big Big differences between USA, we Japanese must think how animals help our life too. I hope the news about you(PETA) spreads out to Japanese in Japan….

  • Iffat says:

    Thank you so much for saving these sweet dogs & for helping all of the other animals in need. I hate to think what would happen to them without people like you.

  • Raymond Renaldy says:

    Thank you for helping the people and animals in Japan, my prayers along with all of you guys.

  • pnemethy says:

    The animals are just as important as the people!

  • Matty says:

    Come on USA, pull through for the people and animals of Japan.

  • me says:

    the reason they aren’t taking the animals is because they would rather take a human then 2 dogs or cats.

  • Dominique says:

    Very touching story! My prayers go out to all the victims … humans and the animals!

  • Laurie says:

    I am sure there are thousands of pets with no chance of being reunited with their families– and Japan cannot take them all in with the other issues they have to deal with. I wonder if there is an international pet adoption something going on or if it is even possible? I for one would adopt two dogs right off the bat if it is possible. Thank you for all you are doing for these sweet animals.

  • Linda K. says:

    Thanks PETA….blessings ! We must allow evacuees to bring their beloved pets….this I so important and the most humane thing to do , for the people and the animals..YES thses animals are a part of US & we must always protect thme & they are parts of our families !!! they should NOT be left behind to suffer.

  • Pat Tyler says:

    I just wrote to Hilary Clinton asking her to allow the animals to go on the planes with their families and how very important this is for all of them,animals and people. Thanks always for your GREAT work and support of animals everywhere. This is why I am a member. Pat Tyler ND

  • Michelle says:

    Please please allow the citizens of Japan when evacuating to take their animals with them. Our 4 legged loyal family members need supporting too. Thank you.

  • AWA(Animal Welfare Activity) Jun Harada says:

    Dear Ashley and Isabella, First of all, I would like to say thank you for rescuing animals in Miyagi. I live in Tokyo who helps cats and dogs mainly neuter and finding a foster parents. Anyway,I am looking for to send a food for suffered dogs and cats in the north western area of Japan. If you need any other assistance, please let me know. I will try my best to support any inconvienece. Lastly, I would like to send my great respect for the hard work facing in tragic desaster area. Sincerely yours, Animal Welfare Activity Jun Harada

  • Nicole Domansky-Chung says:

    Our animals are dependent on us.They are our family, please allow evacuees to bring them home safe and well with their families.All need each other to heal. Thank You

  • Sally Goh says:

    Please help save the animals too! God bless…

  • Sharon Barboza says:

    Please help the people of Japan by allowing them to bring their 4-legged family members when evacuating to the US. Not only will this reduce stress for the family but, also will allow Japan to focus all their efforts on recovery and rebuilding instead of being inundated with beloved pets.

  • Aneliese says:

    Email sent. Ashley & Isabella, you two are incredible!

  • Adriana Bunt says:

    Please allow the people of Japan to take their animals to the shelters, they are also part of the family!!!!!! Don´t be cruel!!!!!

  • Elaine says:

    MY GOD-how can the leaders chose to leave behind the family’s pets?? Haven’t they lost enough?

  • Amber Marienthal says:

    Please allow people to evacuate ALL of their family members, not just the human ones.

  • Stefania Chaves says:

    I wish I could go there also to help these poor animals.. God knows how much of them are let behind in times of chaos..or even worse..those who don’t have home..and are in the streets in these times.. I appreciate so much the groups wich are supporting them in such a hard work. Is so sad what happened in Japan but people should think that human being is able to save them selves..going to a evacuation center..receiving on.. but animals can’t..if we didn’t help and think about them..they would stay in danger without understandig what’s going on.. Congratulations the two of you.. life is already giving back the good things you have been doing for these little kids.

  • Priya says:

    Please let the animals leave japan with their families, they are also deeply affected by the tsunami and earthquake. Please allow them to leave, u cannot leave behind Gods creatures! Peta ur amazing and doing a fantastic job!!! God bless you!!!

  • Laura says:

    Please please allow the citizens of Japan when evacuating to take their animals with them. Our 4 legged loyal family members need supporting too. Thank you.

  • Emi Stefanaki says:

    Please allow the citizens of Japan when evacuating to take their animals with them!! Thank you.

  • Carolyn tibbs says:

    Please help them, they need the love between them and their pets to help sustain them and make some semblance of order in their world.

  • Carla Cioffi says:

    We also need to help the innocent animals who are also suffering.

  • Joaquín Hernández says:

    Please, support these people. Our planet is so damaged and destroyed precisely because we have not been capable of understanding this matter before. Just let them in where ever you have a shelter; Let’s make a change from now on!

  • Jaume Rivell says:

    Thank you Peta for being always where you are most needed to help the animals! Kudos for you for all that you do to prevent pain and suffering to the most vulerable among us! You will ALWAYS have all my support!

  • Helen McCabe says:

    Please please allow the citizens of Japan when evacuating to take their animals with them. Our 4 legged loyal family members need supporting too. Thank you.