Kinship Circle

Kinship Circle’s Adrienne Usher returns for Aug-Sep aid in Japan. Adrienne, second from left, is with team members Susan Roberts (JEARS), Cheri Deatsch (Kinship), Mary Kenard and Tim Exley (JEARS), Trixie, and Sister Michael (Kinship, behind camera). (C) Kinship Circle, Japan 2011

An orange cat hunts for crumbs near an empty feeding station in Namie. JEARS volunteer Sylvia, along Selena Hoy’s (JEARS) dad, find the elusive cat. Vet tech Alex Lane offers food, but Stanley backs away until overcome with hunger. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

Jessie is 1 of 3 surviving kittens born to Cassie in desolate Yamakiya, Kawamata near the 20K zone. As Jessie gained weight, he developed a bit of a "wild west" swagger to match his name. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

Reo only recently saw his family, since divided by radiation evacuations. The beautiful dog is temporarily sheltered in Fukushima with JEARS staff and help from Kinship Circle volunteers. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

Princess and her two kittens are now clear-eyed and adoptable. Rescued with eye herpes, the cats recovered under care of JEARS and Kinship Circle at Club Lohas in Inawashiro, Fukushima. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

Jesse rests in the crook of Judy Howland’s (JEARS) elbow. A kitten born in a vacated radiation hot zone, Jesse and two more litter-mates gained weight, while another two kittens perished from unknown causes. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

Shiba Inu mix Michi lugs her "woobie" everywhere! JEARS’ Selena Hoy keeps replacements on hand, as the wee warrior is inconsolable without her rawhide. Though available for foster, JEARS thinks Michi has a person who might still be searching. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

People-friendly King, abandoned or lost in the disaster, nears the end of a mandatory 4-month hold, with no trace of the humans who once cared for him. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

Muku, at Club Lohas Shelter, is dog and people aggressive. The Shiba misses his family, who recently visited after a two-month separation. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

Kinship Circle’s Sister Michael Marie first spotted pregnant Peetie in a weedy field in Tsushima, Namie — about 25km from the nuclear reactor. Sister carefully grabbed the fearful cat and Selena (JEARS) closed a carrier door around Peetie in a flash. Like others abandoned in evacuations, Peetie is up for adoption at the end of her 4-month hold. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

Shiba mix Chiro has been separated from her family since 5/19/11 when they went to a Kawamata evac center. She is available for temporary foster. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

Joey appeared roadside, too weak and injured to flee when JEARS’ Selena and Rieko approached. Joey’s healthy weight should be 12-15 pounds, but he currently weighs just 4 lbs. Kinship Circle’s Adrienne Usher is careful to not overfeed an emaciated animal, but notes that Joey does consume meals laced with antibiotics and dewormer. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

Cassie rests with her brood, now safe at Club Lohas Shelter in Fukushima. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011
spacer Animals’ fate uncertain…6 months after Japan’s quake-tsunami

Kinship Circle Is Still In Japan, As Animals Suffer Fallout From Radiation Evacuations

In August and September, Sister Michael Marie and Adrienne Usher work from Club Lohas Shelter in Inawashiro, Fukushima with Susan Roberts, Selena Hoy, Fran Conigliaro, and more JEARS volunteers.

Kenny, a runt from a litter near the 20km exclusion zone, lived with a feral pack that slowly fed on the 5 pups. Kenny barely survived a head wound. The pups were rescued when residents alerted JEARS. Soon the resilient kids were frockling in the folds of Sister Michael Marie’s habit. (C) Kinship Circle, Japan 2011 SEPTEMEBER, 2011
Outlook Unknown, Many Unanswered Questions

Similarities between post-disaster Katrina and Japan are staggering, says Kinship Circle responder Adrienne Usher in her Sep-Aug trip to Japan. "A primary difference is that Japanese government has declared an official ’end date’ for aid, ironically on 9/11. But for animals, the crisis has barely entered phase 2." JEARS leader Susan Roberts and Selena Hoy oversee the Club Lohas Dog Cafe — a hotel in Inawashiro, Fukushima whose owner has rents rooms and use of her grounds for volunteers and animals. It’s an interim shelter and veterinary aid stop — where hundreds of animals abandoned, orphaned, or temporarily surrendered in Japan’s earthquake-tsunami-radiation crisis live.

Miraculously, about a hundred discarded chickens, whom JEARS-Kinship volunteers have regularly fed for months inside the evacuated 20-30km no-go nuclear zone, have all been adopted! With new chicken digs underway in Sendai, trips into radiation hot zones will continue to focus on cats, dogs and other distressed animals. Adrienne tends to many sick animals, with little time to snap photos. Volunteers are sparse, with a handful of JEARS’ regulars diligently on hand for field rescue and round-the-clock medical care.

Cassie was rescued in Yamakiya, Kawamata, a desolate area that borders the 20km radiation exclusion zone. Shop owners claimed to be feeding cats when Cassie was first seen pregnant. By the time they agreed to let rescuers take cats, Cassie had given birth. Volunteers followed her to her babies. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

Jesse, Lucky and Paul survived, while two of Cassie’s kittys didn’t make it. Lucky (middle) barely clung to life, but round-the-clock feedings brought her back. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011

At Club Lohas Shelter dogs are walked twice daily and crates regularly cleaned. Most animals have rallied with medication, treatment and good nutrition. Their mental health fluctuates. Some are bewildered. Others cope through aggression. A few cats refuse to be socialized. But there is no hope for them if released into the post-disaster landscape. SEPTEMEBER, 2011
Mixed Fate For Japan’s Animal Survivors

Domesticated animals need people to live. Therefore, the fate of companion and farmed animals falls within three scenarios:
  • Temporarily Surrendered: A displaced caregiver wants to reclaim animals when resettled with means to care for them.
  • Surrendered Under Duress: Due diligence requires contacting animal guardians (if found) after a 4-month wait to confirm surrender is permanent.
  • Abandoned Or Orphaned: A formerly caregiven animal is rescued with no identification or means to locate his/her guardians.
Disaster puppies and kittens, babies born post surrender or abandonment, bypass these categories and immediately up for adoption. While most others are available to foster, JEARS’s Susan Roberts and Selena Hoy are reluctant to adopt out animals without verified consent from their original guardians.

On a cat run in Fukushima City, a woman overwhelmed since the quake-tsunami surrenders Choco, Koo, Lee and 3 kittens. Her anxiety worsens as her animals deteriorate. Six months out from the tragedy, their lives are broken. Choco, Koo and Lee are available for foster. JEARS will check with the woman — who sobbed as she handed over her animals — to see if she becomes stable enough to reclaim them. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011 SEPTEMEBER, 2011
Where Does Disaster Aid End, Everyday Care Begin?

While caring for a stream of animals at Club Lohas Shelter, Kinship Circle’s Adrienne Usher asks herself: When do disasters no longer directly impact animals? There is no definitive answer. One factor, however, leaves Japan animals at risk: Fukushima’s destroyed nuclear reactor is still not stabilized. Radiation zones are still under police blockade. Wind driven hot spots still prompt new evacuations. "As long as people cannot return home, the disaster for animals is active," Adrienne says. "But the radiation threat is fluid. Minamisoma — a ghost town when deployed with Kinship Circle in April — is now functional again. At the same time, some areas have first evacuated…which means scores of newly abandoned animals."

Lilly gets silly at Club Lohas Hotel. Since May, an animal-loving hotel owner has rented rooms to volunteers, with use of her property for rescues. Until adopted Lilly lives with her mom and litter-mates, born inside the nuclear evac zone. Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011 SEPTEMEBER, 2011
Interested In Volunteering?

Vets, techs, assistants, vet students…and others with strong shelter care and animal first aid skills — register with Kinship Circle, to work directly under JEARS in Japan. We will connect you with JEARS leaders and possibly sponsor your airfare, if adequate contributions to our Japan Animal Disaster Aid Fund permit.

Dylan (white) is a guant flash of white when Kinship Circle’ s Sister Michael Marie and Alex Lane — both vet techs; Alex a former Kinship Circle vol in Japan who has returned in salaried position for JEARS — revisit a shabby barn at the 20km exclusion edge. His red-rimmed eyes follow our stinky wet food. Sister scoops up starving Dylan from junk heaps just as a second kitty, Jon (calico), catches whiff of our food. Alex catches this one.

Dylan’s infected eyes are cleaned and medicated daily and he has blossomed into a handsome blue-eyed flamepoint-siamese cross.

Teeny Jon looked all-head atop a wisp of a body, but has since grown strong from antibiotics and high nutrient/calorie food. Both deserted kitties recover from upper respiratory infections and sprout little bellies. They are safe at Club Lohas Shelter, up for adoption.

In an earlier trip, Adrienne (lt, in radiation mask) visited a Minamisoma, Fukushima woman on her 40-year-old farm. She briefly evacuated after the nuclear plant blew, but returned and refuses to abandon her cows.

Lilly was rescued near the 20km no-go line where her litter was defenseless against hungry dog packs. She escaped wounds, but nearly starved to death before rescued.

All photos: Photo (C) Kinship Circle, Japan Quake 2011 DISASTER RESPONSE VOLUNTEER


  1. Independently trained volunteers with experience in disaster rescue, animal handling, sheltering, animal first aid, veterinary, photography and documentation, leadership skills.
  2. Flexibililty to travel to disaster zones for 1-2 weeks.
  3. Team players who follow FEMA Incident Command System and Kinship Circle protocol.
  4. Self-sustainability in rugged post-disaster settings.
  5. CLICK HERE to register as an disaster response volunteer.




     Kinship Circle
     Animal Disaster Aid Fund
     7380 Kingsbury Blvd.
     Saint Louis, MO 63130 USA

BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO: Kinship responder Adrienne says that Japan officials "have declared an end date for aid, ironically on 9/11. But the crisis has barely begun for animals." In photo: Susan Roberts of JEARS, with Kinship Circle’s Sister Michael Marie, Cheri Deatsch and Adrienne Usher. (C) Kinship Circle, Japan 2011

Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr Kinship Circle Store CafePress Store eBay Giving Works GoodSearch

spacer spacer KINSHIP CIRCLE
Animal Advocacy  |  Education  |  Disaster Aid  •  •
314-795-2646  |  7380 Kingsbury Blvd  |  Saint Louis, MO 63130 USA

●  Federal 501c3 under U.S. IRS ruling, Public Charity Status: 170b1Avi
●  Tax Employee Identification Number (EIN) available upon request
●  Nonprofit Certificate of Incorporation, Charter: N00071626