Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Horrible Earthquake in Japan!

Last week there was a really, truly horrible earthquake in Japan, and it was like the 5th worst earthquake ever to happen since people started keeping track of such things.  The earthquake shook everything really hard, so lots of houses and buildings fell down.  And after that, the earthquake made a humongous wave, called a tsunami.  The tsunami went way up on the shore, and it washed whole villages away and drowned them, including all the people and cats and dogs and houses and cars and boats.

So right after all this happened, a bunch of rescue people rushed in and started trying to find people that were still alive.  They are still doing this, but mostly all they are finding now are dead people.  So far, they found over 3000 bodies, and they think there will be thousands more.  And a lot of the people that didn't die got their homes smashed by the earthquake or the tsunami, so they don't have anyplace to live right now, except in tents.  And meanwhile, there are some nuclear reactor things that might melt down and make everybody sick from radiation.  So what I'm trying to say is that the situation is very, very bad in Japan right now.

Anyway, besides all the people who ended up being homeless because of the earthquake, there are also homeless dogs and cats.  So while some groups try to help the people, other groups are trying to help the animals.  One group I found out about is called World Vets.  I had never heard of this group before, but they have their headquarters in Fargo, ND, and they send teams of veterinarians to different places in the world where they are needed.  A "first responder" group left North Dakota yesterday to fly to Japan and help take care of animals that were in the earthquake.  If you are want to know more about this group, you can go to their website.  And they also have a Facebook page where you can get updates on their work in Japan.

Besides that, there are some animal rescue groups in Japan who are getting ready to take in a bunch of dogs and cats that need help because of the earthquake.  You can read an article here about some of these groups and how you can help them.  Also there is a Facebook page with news and discussion about animal rescue in Japan.

One of the first groups to get involved in helping the Japanese people after the earthquake was the Search Dog Foundation.  They are a group here in the U.S. that trains dogs to do search-and-rescue work.  A lot of the dogs they use are dogs from shelters.  The way they decide if a dog would be a good search dog is they look for dogs that have a lot of energy and that really focus on stuff, like for instance finding a toy.  So if a dog is willing to dig down through a big snowbank because he really, really wants that toy, he could probably be trained for search-and-rescue work.

After the dogs and their handlers get trained, they have to be ready to go anyplace at a moment's notice to help find people who are lost or buried under debris or whatever.  So the Search Dog Foundation sent a team of dogs and handlers to Japan on the very same day that the earthquake happened.  And now I'm going to tell you a little bit about three of the dogs that got sent to Japan to help find people and rescue them.

Hunter is a border collie, and he is 8 years old.  He has a ton of energy, like most border collies, and he works with his handler at the Los Angeles County Fire Department.  Hunter started out living with the mom who adopted him, and he was a wild and crazy puppy who liked to chew up everything in the house.  His mom took him to the dog park a lot so he could get exercise, but then he started herding all the other dogs.  Later on, when something happened so that she couldn't keep him anymore, she donated him to the Search Dog Foundation, and he got trained as a disaster search dog.

On January 14, 2010, Hunter and his handler, Bill, went to Haiti after the earthquake there with 6 other canine search teams.  During the 16 days they were in Haiti, these search teams found and saved 12 people.  So now Hunter and Bill are in Japan, looking for people to save there.

Joe is a 4-year-old yellow lab who came from a shelter in Colorado.  He was chosen to train as a search dog because he loved to dive into bushes in the snow to retrieve his toy, no matter how cold it was or how much other stuff was going on around him.  Joe and his handler, Linda, live in Los Angeles.  They thought they might get sent to Haiti last year, but then they didn't.  But they did go to Santa Barbara after a big semi-truck full of gravel crashed into a house.  They had to search the house to see if anybody was in it, but nobody was.  Joe and Linda are also part of the 72-member L.A. Task Force that was sent to Japan by USAID to search for live victims of the earthquake.

Pearl is a black lab who is 5 years old.  She used to live with a human who wasn't home much, so she was always jumping the fence and going out to find something fun to do.  Then Animal Control would pick her up, and her person had to pay a fine.  So finally she got left at the shelter to find a new home.  After a while, some people figured out that Pearl might make a good search dog because even though she was really hyper, she was very smart, and she was totally crazy about toys.  So she got trained, and now she works with her handler Ron, at the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Last January Pearl and Ron got sent to Haiti in the same group that Hunter and Bill were in.  And now they are in Japan, looking for people to rescue there.  I just hope they were able to find some people to save before it was too late.

No comments:

Post a Comment