Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal

Approximately eight months since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, animals are still being rescued with the help of Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue & Support (JEARS) and Kinship Circle. Some have been rescued and rehabilitated from Japan’s radiation exclusion zone, while others have been saved from euthanization and in some cases, reunited with their families.

Kate O’Callaghan poses with Maruko at the animal shelter HEART Tokushima. Photo Credit: Earthquake Pets

One story revolves around Maruko, the 14-year-old terrier mix who was freed after miraculously surviving 11 days trapped under the rubble of her house with no food or water. Upon her discovery, Maruko was surrendered to the city pound in Iwate, where she was rendered aggressive and left in a cage for five days. Unable to keep Maruko with them after relocating to a shelter for victims of the earthquake, her guardians had hoped that the shelter would keep Maruko until they could attain proper housing. However, the shelter strictly abides to a policy in which animals are kept for five days until sent to a gas chamber for euthanization.

But Kate O’Callaghan, a JEARS volunteer living in Japan and an advocate of no-kill animal shelters, was not going to let this stringy-haired pooch go without a fight. So she took the long journey from her home in Okinawa to Iwate Prefecture. After hours of negotiation, alongside veterinarian Dr. Takahashi and a team of volunteers from JEARS and Kinship Circle, O’Callaghan was finally able to send Maruko to Animal Friends Niigita and eventually HEART Tokushima.

During Maruko’s time at her third temporary home, her guardians returned to the pound in Iwate in hopes of reuniting with their beloved pet. They were informed that she was still alive but given no information regarding Maruko’s whereabouts. The family resorted to an online search for missing dogs and came across the JEARS blog site that had posted a video created by Kate O’Callaghan called “Maruko’s Story.” Thanks to O’Callaghan’s strong efforts, the family finally reunited with their beloved pooch toward the end of September after months of separation–an absolute miracle!

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Read on for more heartwarming rescue stories…