We appreciate the outpouring of compassion and generosity shown by donors to our Red Star Animal Emergency Services™ fund for Japan relief. The following questions and answers are provided as an update of our efforts.
Q: I’m a concerned donor/citizen and I would like to know what American Humane Association is doing in Japan right now.
A: We continue to be in close contact with our international partners as discussions take place with the Japanese government to assess the needs of animals and determine the best approaches for responding to those needs.
When the disaster in Japan occurred, we immediately began inquiring into how the animal victims could be helped. American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services has been providing emergency relief for animals in disasters and other emergencies since 1916, including locations overseas, such as Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010.
American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services teams are ready to deploy and have been on standby since the disaster occurred. We anticipate a much clearer picture for our activities (and those of our partners) within the next few days, and do anticipate being involved in longer-term relief and rebuilding efforts on the ground in Japan over the coming weeks and months.
We immediately created an Emergency Fund specifically for Animal Relief Efforts in Japan. This fund will enable us to support efforts to help animals in Japan, whether through:
1. our own near-term deployment as part of an international coalition,
2. providing rapid-response grants to credible local Japanese partners, and
3. our participation in longer-term disease-prevention, sheltering and reunification efforts in the months ahead, should funding levels allow.
During this critical time of need, we are working to make substantial Animal Emergency Services Grants available to animal disaster relief organizations in Japan that are providing real and sustainable rescue and sheltering efforts. We have worked night and day since the day of the earthquake to make contact with and identify appropriate and reputable Japanese animal protection organizations that can provide us with assessments of need and plans for immediate and long-term response actions.
Q: Why haven’t you sent Animal Rescue Teams to Japan?
A: Due to the safety risks and the complexity of the disaster response effort, the Japanese government has not yet allowed international organizations to begin large-scale animal rescue operations. However, discussions are currently ongoing to obtain invitations to deploy to the stricken areas with animal rescue teams. It is the policy of American Humane Association 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 the people who risk their lives to save people and animals in disaster situations, as well as for the safety of the human victims who are still awaiting help from rescuers.
In addition to the challenges and risks presented by the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, the increasingly critical situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant and the radiation dangers have made the already devastating earthquake and tsunami emergencies that much more difficult.
Relief and rescue on the ground in Japan right now is an extraordinarily complex and dangerous effort. Radiation levels from the nuclear plants currently make a successful deployment for our own responders and that of our international partners extremely unsafe. When that danger passes, we hope to provide not only funding to support an on-the-ground response, but also technical assistance.
Q: If you don’t know what the animal needs in Japan are yet, are why are you fundraising?
A: Initiating animal rescue fundraising immediately upon our understanding the magnitude of the disaster saves time and possibly lives. It will enable us to apply those funds immediately to the efforts to help animals in Japan, as soon as appropriate partners and local animal welfare agencies are located and specific plans are implemented to help the animals.
Q: What are you are doing with the donations you have received?
A: We appreciate gifts that our donors have made to our Relief Fund for Japan. We also appreciate their desire to see their funds put to good use in a timely and meaningful way. We have committed that 100% of the donations we are raising for our Japan Relief Fund will go to Japan for animal aid and support.
Q: What are you doing with my donation once you find Japanese agencies to work with?
A: Our donors have been generous and we take seriously the trust that they have placed in us to use their gifts wisely and in as timely a fashion as is possible, considering the extremely complicated and dangerous situation in Japan today. We plan to provide grants to support animal search and rescue and animal disaster sheltering. In doing that, we must ensure that we are working with agencies that are credible, reliable, and reputable and have a plan in place that will assure that the funding is well-spent in both the short term and the long term, in order to save animal lives.
We also intend to make grants that will support the longer-term needs for pet reunification, community recovery, health and welfare for pets and their families that we historically see in the aftermath of disasters of this magnitude.
Just a little over a year ago, we responded to the earthquake in Haiti, along with our Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) partners in the same manner – with a short-term plan to address immediate animal disaster needs paired with a plan to support long-term recovery efforts. This has been a great success, and we expect that it will be a valuable approach to helping the animals in Japan as well.
You can donate online or text PROTECT to 85944 to donate $10.