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Animal welfare: Japan's 'Katrina moment'?


The Humane Society of the United States is no stranger to the political stage. For example, the organization aggressively pushes state ballot measures on animal welfare and has called for a boycott of Canadian seafood until the fishing industry agrees to give up its annual seal hunt. But weighing in on natural disasters is a little different, especially if it's a natural disaster in a country that doesn't exactly embrace animal welfare on a large scale. And why weigh in at all when that country is struggling with a devastating human toll?

But Humane Society Chief Executive Wayne Pacelle managed to tread delicately on that ground onstage during the organization’s annual Genesis Awards gala Saturday night at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. He talked about the devastation in Japan, and something he had observed about the aftermath.  

"Japan has a terrible animal welfare record," he said, noting its commercial whaling interests and disregard for dolphins. But the individual survivors are obviously connected to their pets, he said. "It provides a reminder of the bond between animals and people."

The Humane Society International -- the global arm of the group -- has already provided $170,000 for supplies and temporary shelters for animals in Japan. And the organization is helping Japanese animal welfare groups as well. 

"Amidst the catastrophe there’s an opportunity to have a Katrina moment," Pacelle said after the awards show. For animal welfare advocates, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans underscored the loyalty that went both ways between people and pets: Many residents clung to their pets, reluctantly evacuating without them or, in some cases, refusing to leave without them. 

"I do think pet-keeping is on the rise in Japan," Pacelle said. "We want to nourish that." He details his organization’s efforts in Japan on his blog.

The Genesis Awards, which feature celebrity presenters handing out awards to films and TV shows, including news programs, that delve into animal issues, was taped to air on Animal Planet on April 30 and May 1.


Four lessons from Japan

L.A. County ordinance cracks down on 'puppy mill' abuses

Animal welfare: Getting beyond 'puppy mills'

Hey Rover, roll over

-- Carla Hall

Photo: A Japanese man holds his dog as they wait to be scanned for radiation exposure near the quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Credit: Gregory Bull / Associated Press 


Comments () | Archives (12)

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A Katrina Moment? Is that where H$U$ solicts tons of donations and then does not distribute them where needed??


I hope people will take a moment to read the blog, and stay updated on efforts to help those in Japan. I am proud to work at an organization that is able to assist in such a large natural disaster such as Japan, where our international arm is able to get supplies and financial aid to groups there.

As someone who works at HSUS, I do wanted to address "Type's" comment about Katrina. We are still working in the Gulf, and for those interested in seeing what we're doing I would encourage them to see our summaries (which include full accounting of how we used the donations to make our work there possible) of what we're doing: http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news/2008/08/katrina_three_years.html and http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2010/08/five_years_after_katrina_082710.html


How can anyones thoughts be with pets and animals right now in regard to Japan. The Humane society is part of whats wrong with our society right now. There are a lot of PEOPLE all over the world who are in need and these talented, intelligent, driven people could put their energy and efforts into issues of much greater importance. I love baby seals too but I'd rather see those guys on skid row or that family in japan who lost everything get some help first.


D how can anyone's thoughts on Japan NOT include what's happened to animals in this tragedy? If you don't care to help or to even thing about them, don't. Belittling the people who do care and want to help shows how insensitive you can be. Calling them intelligent, talented and driven ends up being a back handed compliment.

Why is there always someone with this attitude when stories like this are published. Why not just go about your business and read something else?


Because my dissenting opinion matters just as much as yours. Again I love and appreciate animals and realize the place they have in the circle of life your brothers and sisters need your help now there is a time and a place to worry about the animals and it is not when so many millions of people just like you need help. But you would have to accept that they are just like you in order for you to see that. There was nothing back handed about my compliment the Humane Society has some very passionate, beyond capable people who's talent's could be used in far more important ways in MY opinion. Does not mean I don't respect nature or your opinion. without people like you and those same people from HS there would be no whales or dolphins for them to abuse.


Did anyone see that video of the dog staying by his/her wounded dog friend? Honestly, animals and old people - you can tell a lot about a culture by how animals and old people are treated.

Red Williams

In reply to "D," it is people like YOU who are what's wrong with our world and frankly, if you or someone with the attitude you have about animals were on fire, I wouldn't so much as spit on you.

You consider animals to be "lesser" than humans. One can only wonder how you figure this. Even it we take it from your angle, it is well known that a society is only as good as it treats its "lesser" citizens. By your judgement, we should focus on those who we feel benefit humanity the most. Certainly that does not include the retarded, the blind, the deaf, the mentally ill, the crippled, the comatose, the drunks, the poor, the old, the terminally ill.

I find people like you who have an inflated sense of value to be boorish, unkind and ignorant and it is your type I'd boot off the planet first because you just don't get it.


Red.. wow you are some hater of humans..and I imagine other species as well. very sad
Sarah.. well known paid poster from the HSUS so far a whopping $170,000 has been given from your 'arm" HSI.. think you can spare it..?? LOL. must be all you could dredge up in "donations' ans till hold back a bunch for pensions.. and of course Waynes travel plans..to LA to hobnob with the used to be "stars".. any reason he is not in Japan now?

A Katrina moment""?? LOL that's rich...best laugh I have had all day see the truth here:



See, yet another poster who thinks we must choose between human and animal life when it comes to saving either. Red Williams, open your heart to all living creatures, it will change your life.

and type, are you saying the HSUS didn't use the money collected to help animals after Katrina?


See, yet another poster who thinks we must choose between human and animal life when it comes to saving either. Red Williams, open your heart to all living creatures, it will change your life.

and type, are you saying the HSUS didn't use the money collected to help animals after Katrina?


Annie - HSUS solicited over $30 Million for Katrina and spent less than $500k. They solicited HUGE funds for the care of Michael Vick's dogs and they didn't HAVE Vick's dogs. They raise millions and millions of dollars and are giving Japan collars, leashes, dog food (I'm suspecting it's their brand that won't sell)? Big whoop. $170,000? A drop in the bucket for HSUS. They are so selfaggrandizing it's pathetic. The paid syncophants that post for them are also pathetic. They post the same thing regardless of the issue!


Kathy where did you get that information? I'd like to know. I've heard a lot about this sort of thing but I'd like more than just rumors. I have an HSUS office very near my house and I will be more than happy to see what they have to say, just for the record.



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