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The Beauty and Power of a Network

This is often the time of year that we reflect on where we've been and where we are headed. As the forever meaningful date of March 11 once again draws near, here's a look back over the past year and at our path forward...

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The beauty of a network is that it’s not about a set location or an exact set of people. A network allows for lots of individuals, and groups, to work in mostly the same direction with the same primary goal, from anywhere. In Japan Cat Network’s case, our primary goal is to help people help animals. Specifically, we target the expat and traveler community in Japan, as it can be difficult for non-native speakers to find animal helping advice and/or assistance. We are so grateful for the many people who have come together over the years, and for all of the resulting good that has been done for animals. 

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We started out over 20 years ago with a simple goal of offering support for organizing Trap Neuter Return projects, but we quickly became so much more. We began rescue assistance, sheltering, and rehoming. Our response to the tremendous need in northern Japan, following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, took things to another level. We went to Fukushima, and because the need was so very great, we stayed. 

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Our core mission is to provide the best opportunities that we can, for people to help animals. One aspect of our mission is sheltering. We continue to care for Fukushima rescued animals, as well as for animals rescued by our members throughout Japan. While we absolutely believe in the need for shelters, we believe that the bigger need is for individuals to do what they can where they are. JCN continuously provides venues for reaching out, so that support for responsible animal-helping work can more easily be available anywhere. 

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Another significant aspect of our mission involves our advocacy presence on social media and online. Our email and social media are maintained by our admin volunteers, whose availability can often mean the difference between life and death for animals found in urgent need. Check out these nice mentions in recent articles, regarding JCN collaboration with Japanese rescue efforts. English versions of these stories can be found here.

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Not long ago, we were very kindly offered a temporary place to use in Tokyo, and that has gone better than imagined. We now have closer access to good veterinary care, convenient visits from potential adopters or fosters, and a larger pool of volunteer help. While it’s difficult to think about leaving Fukushima permanently, we now hope to keep an ongoing presence in Tokyo. Since our current location is only temporary, we are asking for information about other potential locations in the Kanto area, ideally not far from our vet in the Suginami area. If you or someone you know might have a distressed property in need of some love and good use, please let us know. Our budget is low, but we have a strong volunteer team.

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In addition, we’d like to mention our Kyoto community outreach program. This program works in partnership with a local kindergarten and nursery school to promote international awareness. Our Kyoto program helps with local animal welfare projects and includes Maneki Machiya, a guest house business which helps to fund JCN activities. The five licensed guest houses in the program are pet and family friendly, all with equipped kitchens and private gardens. 

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We are also a major collaborator in a new online start-up guide to animal rescue, which aims to continue building a world-wide database for animal rescues. This will give small rescues an international venue for reaching out to volunteers and supporters. It will also give travelers potential information for helping animals that they find in need. The Animal Rescue Guide database is user generated, so please feel free to register a profile and enter rescues. 

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We are really excited about our expanding volunteer admin team and about the new opportunities we’ve had to create better sustainability for our work. There’s always more work to be done, and those interested in pitching in can contact us at [email protected] 

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Even if you can’t join our volunteer team, you can still be a part of every life saved by becoming one of our Pawsome VIP monthly sponsors. You’ll get special access to updates and the chance to see your contribution in action. Contact us about how to get started, or check out our facebook post for more info.

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We look forward to having a productive and happy 2020! We hope you will follow us on the Facebook group, page, Instagram, and Twitter.

Author: Susan Roberts

Director of Japan Cat Network Fukushima, Susan is an educator, animal welfare enthusiast, and vegan food fanatic.

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