A campaign is underway to create emergency response teams across Japan to provide aid for pets and livestock during natural disasters, following the establishment of such services in a number of prefectures.

Formed in the wake of failures following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit the Tohoku region, the Veterinary Medical Assistance Team, or VMAT — consisting of veterinarians and animal caretakers — was started to respond more effectively in times of need.

"Usually animal welfare groups and vets do go to rescue during natural calamities ... but things got out of control during the Great East Japan Earthquake," said Shinichi Hayama, a professor at Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University, referring to the disaster in Fukushima Prefecture.