HEART is a registered NPO no-kill animal shelter based in Tokushima that offers accommodation in return for volunteering. It was set up by Susan Mercer who runs it with her husband Hitoshi Tojo. With a number of locals volunteering through the week, it’s a great opportunity to take care of the animals but also practise your Japanese.
Why Do The Animals at HEART Need Your Help?
In 2011, HEART saw a massive increase in the number of animals that were brought in after the 3.11 Fukushima disaster. Many families who were forced out of their homes had no choice but to give up their beloved pets.
As well as rescues and re-homing, HEART works with people to help educate them in proper animal welfare such as the importance of spaying and neutering, regular vaccination and untethering, and always to the gratitude of the animals owners.
1 apartment for overnight volunteers
10 Kg of cat food used every day
45 Kg of dog food used every day
300 animals currently in care
1,100 animal lovingly re-homed
1,000,000 yen every month to keep the shelter running
Due to the high cost of maintaining the shelter, HEART is looking for donations and volunteers. If you would like to help visit their website for more information.
Why is somewhere like HEART important for Tokushima?
Although Japan is well known for its interesting animal cafes, the truth is that like any other country, animals are abandoned every day. Puppy mills are rampant and it is all too easy to walk into a pet shop and the latest trend pet, with many owners are not fully aware of the full responsibilities of pet ownership.
Owners love their cute animals, but don’t always understand what they need to enjoy life.
Preventative medicines are often ignored and many dogs are left tethered outside for long periods without proper care or stimulation. Owners love their cute animals, but don’t always understand what they need to enjoy life.
Japan does have several ‘Animal Control Centres’, but these facilities are not like the RSPCA, Dog’s Trust or Cat’s Protection League. On average the Tokushima branch alone will gas 3,000 animals a year. Recent figures show that they have only a 20% return and re-home rate.
So is it just walking dogs?
If you aren’t into the cuddling and petting side of things volunteers with fundraising (marketing) or labour skills are also required as maintenance work needed.
If you’re a doggy lover, or a think kitties are kawaii, this is definitely the opportunity for you. Volunteers are needed for giving time to the animals, whether that is cleaning, grooming, walking etc. Social attention is vital for animals’ well being so don’t underestimate the good you will be doing.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this will be easy work though, you’ll be getting plenty of exercises. You’ll also get to know the individual personalities of the animals, some are cheeky, some are lazy, but all will grab your attention.
How can I help if I don’t live in Tokushima?
With so many mouths to feed donations are always appreciated, whether financial or in kind (food, materials).
TOKUSHIMA CENTRAL POST OFFICE
Guest Contributor: Ben Brady