Kinship Circle reached out to me to ask if I would spotlight their organization in the hopes that it would bring in more donations to help them rescue and offer assistance to as many animals in Japan as possible. I agreed to spotlight their work in Japan if I could find out as much information about what they are doing in Japan and how they spend the donations that are sent to them. I feel it is important for my readers to have the facts and not just rely on blind faith that all money donated is being spent on the animals themselves.
About Kinship Circle’s Work in Japan:
Kinship Circle was the first U.S. animal organization in Japan for ongoing search-rescue-aid. We are an American 501c3 nonprofit that negotiated with Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS) coalition groups prior to deployment. In all international deployments, Kinship Circle aligns itself with local rescue organizations that are working in the field. Shortly after the earthquake/tsunami on 3/11/11, it became evident that JEARS shared similar goals for animal victims in this disaster. Kinship Circle animal disaster responders are skilled and credentialed in a range of disaster-related areas.
TLC: What is the money that is donated to Kinship Circle being used for? Are they flying volunteers over to Japan for free and finding them a place to stay while there?
Kinship Circle: Kinship Circle funds travel costs for our volunteers to work in Japan. This includes airfare at an average $1200 per volunteer through May. Our volunteer network recognizes that Kinship Circle is an organization with very limited means, that rarely collects $50,000 in donations in an entire year. Kinship Circle plans to book a block of hotel rooms in Fukushima City. Though we’ve found the cheapest hotel possible ($50 U.S. dollars per night), this new operations base costs Kinship Circle a minimum $15,500.
We have paid for, and continue to pay for, such protective gear as: Geiger counters, Tyvek suits, eyewear, facial masks… Geiger counters (to measure external radiation) are used to scan rescued animals as well as humans. Kinship Circle also pays for additional equipment such as a Japan rental phone (to communicate within country), GPS unit with Japan chip, and any other electronic gear that facilitates animal aid.
Kinship Circle has brought rescues to Animal Friends Niigata no-kill shelter since this deployment began. However that shelter is at capacity, with some expansion anticipated through use of pre-fab structures. While we’ll continue to bring AFN direct-request animals — those whose guardians called AFN with a request to pickup their animal from an evacuated home — we are also in negotiations with another Japan group government-authorized to rescue animals in the exclusion zone. This group is based at a tent encampment in Fukushima. However, this group needs expanded sheltering capacity too or it will not be able to accept more animals.
TLC: What are your short and long term goals for helping out in Japan? Is Kinship Circle trying to build more shelters for the animals with the money being collected or is the whole mission to just get the animals out of the devastated areas?
Kinship Circle Rescued animals include direct-request pickups. Some have been without care for an extended time. Others animals are wandering in earthquake/tsunami wrecked areas outside the exclusion zone. Evacuation center rescues include those tied, in cars or kennels, living outside a human shelter, as well as requests from evacuees to pickup their animals left behind. Exclusion Zone Rescues direct-request rescues, along with sick, injured, and/or wandering animals. Delivery of animal food/medication/supplies to no-pet evacuation centers and temporary sheltering of partially caregiven animals. In addition to supply drop-offs, we often bring animals tied out front, in cars, or shabby kennels, back to Animal Friends Niigata for temporary housing until their guardians can retrieve them.
Exclusion Zone: This is the most complex area as there are hundreds of animals left in these communities. Some are left with notes about their guardians coming back to feed, walk them. We must function in accordance with Japanese law, or our volunteers will be arrested. However, Kinship Circle volunteers are instructed to un-tether or open stall/enclosure doors for any domesticated animals confined within the nuclear exclusion zone.
They money spent on non- animal related things like housing while their teams are in Japan could be considered helping their economy but at the same time it is taking away from those they are trying to help. Which is why many organizations will not fly anyone to Japan or accept help from people outside of the country because they want to be able to spend the money they do bring in on the people and animals in need. Those organizations who do allow outside help ask that the volunteers pay for their transportation and housing as paying for these things wastes resources.Every organization is allowed to do what they think is necessary it is just important that those who donate to them understand how the money is being spent.
I also want to point out that they have taken it upon themselves to untether animals and let them out of enclosed spaces even if they have information on them that they are being cared for. I am not sure I see how letting animals roam free so that when their owners come to care for them they are missing or injured because someone didn’t like that they are not allowed to roam free. The area these animals are in are still disaster zones and nothing has been done in the Exclusion Zone area to clean anything or repair anything which means there are a lot of dangers to animals roaming free. Many of us confine our animals when we are away for a few hours or at work to keep them safe and out of trouble how much more so would we rely on these things in a disaster to ensure our pets are safe?