Tokushima animal shelter seeks help

Heart Tokushima, a nonprofit animal shelter established in 2006 in western Japan by Canadian Susan Mercer, is facing a crisis as it prepares for the loss of one of its primary sheltering sites.

In Japan’s rural areas, public understanding of animal-welfare activities is often poor and support low or nonexistent. Animal welfare groups struggle, often to the point of being snuffed out. Heart is now being forced to relocate its activities. “We desperately need a proper facility that is ours and will provide security and stability to continue our work,” says Mercer.

“We have been focusing all our resources and energy into rescue, care and re-homing for the last four years without a proper shelter, taking animals into our own homes and renting other properties to house the animals,” the 34-year-old Newfoundland native explains. “During this time we have rescued more than 600 animals, and have re-homed more than 400.”

David Wybenga, who runs the Kansai-based NPO Japan Cat Network along with wife, Susan Roberts, speaks in support of Heart: “On a frugal budget, with few volunteers and amid public apathy, Susan Mercer has prevented vast suffering. She regularly goes into the places that nobody wants to see and brings animals out.”

Niigata shelter owner and Animal Garden Niigata proprietor Isabella Gallaon-Aoki says, “Susan Mercer is one of the heroes. It takes a lot of determination to continue facing so many sad stories, and then do whatever possible to turn some of those into happy endings.

“(Mercer) needs a place to carry out her work, without the worry of constant harassment and fear for the safety of the animals.”

Anyone able to help in any way should contact Heart at; tel/fax (088) 635-5558. Or see