Thank you for all your support and encouragement in 2022!
Our rescue/re-homing numbers for 2022 are down about 100 from the year past but still pretty good. 304 animals rescued (164 dogs, 138 cats and 1 rabbit) with 243 animals out (101 dogs, 100 cat and 1 rabbit adopted and 41 dogs transferred to other rescue organizations).
We are off to a good start to 2023 with 5 dogs/puppies already out to homes! Billy Bob left on the 4th with his new owner, a family member of Fuji kun's owner so the two dogs were reunited. A road trip to Gunma prefecture to deliver Riley and Mika. Stopping on the way back to bring Takuma to Aichi and send Lailah to Miyagi from Itami airport. We are still full, full, full of puppies so it's been full on animal care for me while I hold the fort at home and at the clinic.
We are extremely glad to have long-term volunteers return now that the borders are open. Five more pairs of helping hands this month and we are so grateful. It's been so hard at the shelter for the past two years as local volunteers are few and far between as it has always been. I can't be sure what keeps them away, maybe a difference in what's perceived as volunteering, or the actual hard work of a shelter volunteer or a misunderstanding of what rescue at this scale entails? That said, we are very thankful to the few dedicated locals we see regularly.
We've had a couple critical rescues in the past 10 days that I'll introduce in another blog post. There's always so much gong on, it's often too much to explain!
Wishing you all a wonderful 2023 and we'll do our best again this year for the animals and to keep you updated.
When it all gets too much
We are constantly receiving rescue requests and it gets overwhelming sometimes. We can't help all the animals in need. Space, manpower and resources are always limited and we can only do what we can with what we have. Our days and nights are also filled with running the rescue and time is also a scarcity so it's impossible to get back to every e-mail and message that comes our way and we apologize for that.
One such e-mail sat in our inbox in mid-August about a dog hanging around an abandoned mountain building. I glanced at the photos but left it as is as we are full to the brim with dogs waiting for homes. Over one hundred, actually. I passed it off as another feral dog able to survive on it's own. A nagging feeling kept me returning to the photos. Where were the other dogs? Isn't is strange that a feral would stick around a building alone?
Soon enough, she was captured by animal control so we went to meet her there. She was obviously not feral.
So she came to HEART. I named her Juno. She is the sweetest of sweetest dogs. People friendly, dog friendly, just an all around wonderful dog. She likes her sleep though, and that's the only time I've seen her get a bit pissed off but I totally get that.
So the moral of the story is that there are too, too many people that just want to get their animal problem off their hands and guilty conscious. And put it unto the ones doing rescue work. I've learned how to say no in a lot of cases but it doesn't make my guilt for not saving that one or two or sometimes 20.
I think what put me off from the start was the initial e-mail. The gist being "I have two dogs and I can't possibly do more. There must be someone that can give this dog a home. Why can't HEART do something to get this dog into a home".
I wanted to respond with "I am responsible for over 100 dogs at the moment and 70 cats. I can't possibly do more. There must be homes for the friendly and vetted animals in our care. Why are people so selfish and can't do more for the animals in front of their eyes."
Since Juno came to HEART, we haven't heard from the e-mailer. I'm assuming there wasn't donation of any kind, either. This is from experience, but I apologize if the e-mailer did contribute to Juno's fees for pulling her from the Kanri center, her spay surgery, microchip, vaccinations, heart-worm blood test, flea/tick treatment, de-worming, food for the past three months, electric bills to keep her cool during the hot months and now warm during the cool ones, rent to pay for the roof over her head, etc. etc. etc.
Juno due to fly out to her new home on the 23rd. She is one of the lucky mid-sized adult dogs that could find a home. It's not so easy. Just ask the other 100 of our mid-sized adult dogs. Some of them pure-bred. Some of them with so much love to give. We all wonder why they haven't found a home yet. My only answer is that it must be destiny.
I believe in miracles
I considered not sharing this because there are so many critics out there waiting to jump on us for any slight but it's too good of a story not to share. My stories are always long and complicated, certainly, as that is my life in animal rescue.
Remus and Pan Pan were brothers that were abandoned over 3 years ago at a park that we have been doing TNR and rescue at for the past 5 years. They were about 4 months old at the time and two roommates from Sweden fostered them until they left Tokushima to return home. Remus and Pan Pan then moved to our volunteer house where they lived with our long-term volunteers. Remus was the outgoing one, Pan Pan the shy one. Both too smart for their own good and with one outside escape and capture, they got a taste for the great outdoors and learned to open doors and windows. Learned to check all the doors and windows to find one to open, and then because we were extra careful to make sure the windows were hatched closed, learned to pull the hatch to open the windows. At first, we always panicked when they got out but we'd leave the window open and they would return and all was well again.
When COVID began, our long-term volunteer pool dried up and Remus and Pan Pan spent a lot of time alone in the volunteer house besides daily visits to care for them. I would also go to stay with them overnight a couple of days a week but they were lonely. The outside was enticing and their escape artist activity intensified. And then we were blessed with a long-term volunteer from Germany during the pandemic that jumped through hoops to get here. All was well in Remus and Pan Pan's world again for 9 months and then they were alone with daily visits and a couple nights of human companionship again. You can guess what happened. The window was always left opened for their return. They did, but it was always just one of them and never both of them at the same time so the window had to be left open. And then there was only Remus returning and no sightings of Pan Pan for months and months. We set traps, searched the neighborhood, checked with police and animal control. Half a year later and I accepted that he was dead.
There was no way a shy cat with no experience living outdoors could survive.
Remus was a constant during that time and was usually inside inviting all the other stray cats in through the open window. Or if he wasn't inside, I'd call out to him and he'd do his loud meowing and come running. Then this past summer, Remus's fur started thinning and he'd lost some weight. I thought it may have been an allergic reaction to the new flea/tick preventive but a vet visit and echo showed a mass in his stomach. It was a tumor and he was sent home with meds. He wasn't feeling well and spent his time resting and sleeping and had no interest in finding a way outside. About ten days later, he made a prison break, stayed out overnight, returned home and then passed away. My human brain told me that he must have had one last fruitless look for his brother, Pan Pan, and then gave up on life.
Fast forward to today. Almost a year since Pan Pan disappeared. A client brings a rescue they want to keep as their own to a local vet clinic and the vet suggests to check for a microchip. He has one. It's Pan Pan. We are contacted. He's healthy and doing well.
I was in disbelief and once I got my bearings have to reconsider some things I thought to be true. One being that a cat raised strictly indoors can't survive on their own outside. For almost a year. Owners should never give up on a lost cat.
Other of my beliefs are reinforced. Microchipping is so so important. Not for just the animals but for the people. I am so, so relieved that he is alive and well. Ear-tipping should only be reserved for feral or street cats. I wonder if Pan Pan would have been rescued or checked if he had one.
And the story I I told myself when Remus went out that last time. Now I wonder if he was saying good-bye to his brother for the last time. Another made up human brain story.
We do not give animals they credit they deserve. They are not little humans. And I so respect that. They far surpass our resilience to life's difficulties. They don't live in the past. They don't dream about the future. They live in the now. We, humans, have a lot to learn. (and I'm soooo grateful for that microchip and call to let me know PanPan is ok after all this time❤️)
Without a name
Please know that you have been loved by the universe. You have been loved by the ones that found you and the ones that tried to heal you. From here, we wish you the most auspicious next life. May you be free from pain. May you be free from fear. May you now experience a sacred sendoff. -Sarah Bowmen
I often don't want to write about the ones that we couldn't save. It could be because the next rescue comes in and there isn't time. Or it could be that I feel like we failed somehow. Or that it is just too hard for me to really sit with the feelings of sadness for a life cut short in suffering.
In mid-July, two kittens came in just days apart found by passer-bys in completely different areas of the city. Both with puncture wounds and difficulty moving. Both taken to local vet clinics. The black and white kitten the morning after she arrived at HEART. The black kitten just minutes after we took her in. Same prognosis. Same outcome for both little lives.
Wounds most likely caused by a bite with abdominal injuries causing internal damage. Both kittens died. One while waiting to be examined. The other the morning after being admitted.
We live in the countryside of Japan. In a place that needs to embrace that the community cat problem is everyone's problem. Things are changing for the better but we need a village to help. They say that only 1 in 10 kittens born outside will live to the age of one. I say let's prevent as many births as possible to prevent the needless suffering. There is help, there are affordable options, anyone can make an appointment and be taught to trap-neuter and return a cat/cats. There is no special license to capture and take a cat to be spay/neutered and it's not rocket science. Anyone can do it and we need everyone on board to make the biggest impact.
It's hard for people to turn a blind eye to animals that are suffering. That's why these two kittens that were in dire need found their way to HEART. I appreciate that. But I wish we could take it one step back and that we lived in a society that saw just a healthy regular cat around and noticed no ear-tip and thought "Hey, let's stop the suffering before it happens. To the spay clinic it is!" It should be really that easy. Because without that I worry about people like me who are whole-heartedly invested in helping animals in need. Burn-out is real. Compassion fatigue is real.
I was hesitant to come back to finish this post I started writing three weeks ago. To re-live the sadness of losing those two little kittens that died back in July. To not be able to express in words what I really want to say about it all.
All I can do is to finally give these two a sacred send-off. And that I can feel somewhat at peace knowing they are free from pain and fear.
We see cats with various injuries and illnesses come through the doors of our spay clinic, some of them needing urgent care or operations that we are not equipped to provide. We are often left in the position of having to take on the cat as a rescue to get the treatment it needs at a local veterinary clinic. Gypsy is one of those cats.
A regular at a volunteer's Trap-Neuter-Return site, she was found injured and brought to our clinic. An older leg injury, it's hard to imagine the pain and discomfort she felt as she navigated life as stray.
We took Gypsy to a local veterinary clinic and she required leg amputation. Her healing went well and she was able to come home to HEART within a week.
Gypsy is warming up to people and we hope she will be soon ready to find a home that will welcome this special three-legged girl.
HEART is a temporary home to 130 dogs and 70 cats and it's always been a challenge to make ends meet. It costs a lot to run a shelter and a spay clinic, provide medical care and daily nessessities for our animals and cover costs for emergency treatment for animals like Gypsy. We are grateful to our supporters for your generosity and ask for your continued support so we can continue helping animals in need.
HEARTは130頭の犬と70頭の猫の一時的な住処であり、常に運営資金が課題となっています。 シェルターと避妊手術のためのクリニックを運営し、動物たちに医療と日常生活を提供し、ジプシーのような動物たちの緊急治療費をまかなうには、多くの費用がかかります。 私たちは、サポーターの皆さんの寛大な心に感謝するとともに、これからも助けを必要とする動物たちをレスキューし続けることができるよう、今後もご支援をどうぞ宜しくお願いいたします。
Wednesday was a Spay day at our clinic with 23 cats fixed and no longer adding to the homeless pet population. A big thank you to Nomura Sensei and the clinic staff for their hard work!
Three rescues in as well. Bun is a 10-year-old male cat and is the biggest cat we have ever met, weighing in at 7.8 kilograms! His elderly owner was hospitalized and had no one that was able to care for Bun so we agreed to take him in. After 10 years in a home, it will be hard for him to adjust to a multi-cat living situation at HEART so we really hope that a loving family will open their home to him soon.
A planned Trap-Neuter-Return cat came in emaciated and dehydrated so we decided to keep her for treatment for a few days. It turns out she is a friendly and affectionate cat so is now a HEART rescue and we hope she is on the mend soon.
Little Hello kun also joined our rescue kittens. He was found the night before by a passerby that contacted us and we agreed to take him in. He's a friendly and affectionate handsome boy that is ready for a new home!
We are running a crowdfunding project at the moment and we really want to reach our goal! Please check it out here: https://readyfor.jp/projects/heart-tokushima
We hope you will consider supporting our work for animals in need!
Being so busy with raising two boys, running a shelter plus Spay clinic and hands on animal care, I've hardly time to keep you updated. And then there is so much that happens everyday, I don't know where to start when I sit down to write a post but here goes another try.
With all the Shibas we took in from the pet shop, small breeds from a puppy mill rescue we are helping with and kitten season here, we are full, full, full and really busy at the moment.
These three little kittens came in April 25th and they went to the vet right away. Still needing feedings, it was a bit too much for me that day so I asked the clinic to keep them for the night and they came back the next day in a bit better shape. They had no problems being hand-fed, although they preferred kitten milk from a syringe and didn't take to a nipple. They are growing and healthy and their eyes couldn't be saved but are much better. Between the three of them it seems we only have one eyeball with sight. Animals are amazing and resilient and these three are regular playful and affectionate kittens that sometimes run into things:)
この3匹の子猫は4月25日にやってきて、そのまま動物病院へ。 まだミルクが必要で、その日はちょっと大変だったので、動物病院で一晩預かってもらい、翌日、少し元気になって戻ってきました。 注射器から出る子猫用のミルクを好み、哺乳瓶にはなつきませんでしたが、シリンジでの授乳は問題ありませんでした。彼らは成長し、健康で、目は救えませんでしたが、ずっと良くなっています。3匹のうちで、視力のある眼球は1つしかないようです。動物は素晴らしく、回復力があり、この3匹は遊び好きで愛情深い普通の子猫で、時々何かにぶつかることもあります:)
10 animals out to homes already in May. We also had three animals bounce back and we picked them up from Kansai on Wednesday. Cat Eclair was in a home for a year. Dog Manju for a month. Kitten Ichika only a few days. Various reasons and though tremendously disappointing and stressful for the animals with all that moving around, I'm glad they are back with us and hope we make a better match for them the next time.
To add a piece of very happy news, Yumiko the Akita was adopted and came back to visit us this week. She is such a beautiful and good girl, we are so glad she found the perfect home💕
Tsubaki was a feral dog that found himself at animal control in 2020. The couple that were feeding him contacted us as he would have no way out alive without our help. We agreed to take him. It took Tsubaki a while to get used to shelter life, being near strange humans and learning dog-human things like taking walks on lead, being touched, brushed, etc. etc. I'm happy to say Tsubaki was one of our successes and he is doing wonderfully in his forever home since September of last year.
Every dog is an individual and it's never easy to know how much time, training and patience it will take before they are ready for adoption. With such a large feral population in Tokushima and many captured to be destroyed at animal control, it's always hard to know the outcome. But we still take the chance for them. We have dogs that have been with us for years and are still not comfortable being touched. We also have dogs that are labeled feral at animal control but completely come out of their shell in a day or two once rescued. And we have dogs like Tsubaki that after a couple of years can live in a home with a family. I'm so happy for him and so grateful to our adopters for taking the time to get to know a shy shelter dog and deciding to give him a home💕
Pet Shop/Breeder rescue
A pet shop/breeder that has been in operation for over 30 years is finally going out of business. The shop is quite well known in Tokushima for complaints about conditions the animals were kept in and it's closing should have been years ago. It's discouraging that places like this are allowed to stay in business for so long.
私たちは、彼の残りの動物たちの里親探しを手伝うよう依頼され、最初の訪問時に、すぐに獣医に診てもらった3匹の猫を保護し、すべて里親が見つかりました。 また、グルーミングが必要なチワワ1匹と、皮膚疾患のある豆柴1匹も同日に保護し、現在、治療中です。 その後、残りの12匹の柴も保護し、間もなく里親募集を開始する予定です。
We were asked to help find homes for his remaining animals and on our initial visit, we rescued the three cats that have all found homes. One Chihuahua that was in desperate need of grooming was rescued the same day as well as a Mame Shiba with a skin condition that is now under treatment. We have since rescued the remaining 12 shibas and will be placing them up for adoption shortly.
We are always in need of your support and we are reaching out for donations. We are in need of extra large cages as well as other necessities, such as pet sheets and food. Monetary donations are very much appreciated to help with vetting and to keep our shelter running so we can continue to help animals in need with no where else to go. Thank you for your support!
Amazon wishlist: https://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/registry/wishlist/1UFXLEF3OU60B
What's going on
Opps. It's been almost two weeks since I've done an update and the days fly by so quickly here with so much to report so I'll try to make it brief.
Since my last post we have had 14 adoptions and 8 rescues in with almost a complete replacement of puppies. The newest group is a friendly and lively bunch which is a change but makes it hard to walk around without tripping over puppies or concentrate on anything for a length of time without being interrupted. They are cute when they are sleeping, though😅
前回の投稿以来、14件の養子縁組と8件のレスキューがあり、子犬はほぼ完全に入れ替わりました。 新しいグループはフレンドリーで活発な一団で、これは変化ですが、子犬につまずかないように歩き回ったり、邪魔されずに長時間何かに集中するのは難しいことです。 寝ている姿は可愛いんですけどね😅。
We also had two cats and one adult dog bounce back which is always disappointing but it happens. Soujiro had a taste of life in a home and he seemed to really enjoy it. He's back at the shelter now and no worse for wear and we'll be sure to make a better choice for him the next time a chance at a home comes up.
また、猫2匹と成犬1匹が跳ね返され、いつもがっかりさせられますが、そういうこともあるのです。 宗次郎は家庭での生活を経験し、本当に楽しそうでした。 今、彼はシェルターに戻っていますが、特に問題はありません。次回、家に帰る機会があれば、彼のためにより良い選択をしたいと思います。
A couple HEART adoptees came to visit last week.
Fuki chan who was adopted in 2010 shortly after her rescue. She was a puppy that came to us with a severely infected wound that led to having her leg amputated. I remember that clearly, because of her ordeal, and because the couple that called us for help gave us McDonald's coupons as a donation towards her care🙄. It was easy to find the photos that we took back then but always forget to take pics now so don't have one of grown up Fuki. Sorry!
Sansa came back to see us, too, and she was excited to see the staff!
(bad photos courtesy of Hitoshi)
A Spay day at our clinic yesterday with 26 cats fixed. It's a difficult time of year as half of the females are pregnant requiring spay/abort. It's a necessary procedure and prevents suffering as data suggests that 80% of feral kittens born will die within one year by starvation, disease and trauma. Also, there just aren't enough homes for all companion animals in need.
昨日は当院のSpay dayで、26匹の猫手術をしました。 メスの半数が妊娠しており、この時期の手術は大変なのです。 野良猫の80％は1歳までに飢えや病気、外傷で死んでしまうというデータもあり必要な処置であり、苦しみを防ぐものです。また、単純に、すべてのコンパニオンアニマルのための家が十分にありません。
Powder, the Not Shih Tsu, but Maltese, is doing well.
That's all I can think of right now but will be back soon!