We’ve received a lot of requests from our members, as well as pet owners, asking what’s being done in Japan and how they can help. Our hearts go out to all of those affected by last month’s 9.0 earthquake and following tsunamis. As if the earthquake and tsunamis weren’t enough—this response has been complicated by the seriously damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Northern Japan. Japanese authorities continue to work to contain the damage but escaped radiation has contaminated the area’s water and soil in Japan.
Trying to look on the bright side, Japan has strong emergency response capabilities and, to date, we have not received any official calls for international volunteers. While help, expertise and resources are desperately needed in situations like this, it is crucial that relief efforts are properly organized and carried out effectively by trusted groups experienced in disaster response — and at the request of the officials in the affected country.
The AVMA and AVMF are monitoring the situation in Japan very closely. We have been working directly with the Japan Veterinary Medical Association (two AVMA members are serving as our direct contacts) to identify the best way for us to provide assistance.
Also, we are working with our animal emergency response partners who make up the US-based National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC). The 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.
Currently, AVMA, AVMF and the NARSC members are working with our contacts on the ground in Japan to determine how we may best use our collective resources in this response. Financial and other aid has been sent by some members of NARSC, including vitally needed animal care supplies, and we are looking at ways we can support local organization’s recover efforts that will help animals well into the future.
We’re regularly updating information about the situation in Japan on our website, and we also released a podcast update on Japan this week.