HEART Tokushima is an animal shelter in Tokushima that houses dogs, as well as cats. It was started 14 years ago by a Canadian woman, Susan Mercer, who first came to Japan to teach English. In 14 years, HEART has rescued and placed with a family more than 2,000 animals.
I went to the shelter to volunteer for two days. Usually, volunteers stay for longer that this. As a volunteer, the main task is simply to walk the dogs.
It is easy to see that Susan, and her husband, are sincere in their approach. From nothing, they have built a no-kill shelter that has placed thousands of animals with a family. The shelter does not look impressive. They have very little money and run the shelter on a shoestring budget. Although most of their dogs come from the Tokushima area, my understanding is that they get almost no support from the local community and instead rely on donors from elsewhere in Japan and overseas.
I had the chance to visit the local governmental facility for animal control. It was painful to see that they have extremely good facilities, dozens of staff and a large budget. In effect, they capture animals in Tokushima, keep them temporarily until they run out of space, at what point they will gas the animals with CO2 to make new space in their automated facilities. In comparison, Susan has perhaps 2% of their budget, no full time staff, and has been able to do so much.
HEART Tokushima would be a great place to volunteer, to discovery the countryside of Japan, play with dogs and cats, reconnect with a simple life, and get inspired by Susan’s sincerity and dedication, working 7 days a week on selflessly saving animals and educating the people of Japan regarding animal welfare and best practices.
Reservations: If you would like to adopt an animal or volunteer at the shelter to walk dogs, please contact the shelter by email. They have an apartment that they can provide to long term volunteers free of charge and Susan’s husband will transport you to and from the shelter. This is their website. You can also follow HEART on Facebook and Instagram.
If this blog has provided you with any value, I would encourage you to make a donation to HEART. Any amount will make a difference. The money will be spent in the most cost-effective way to save animals and make a change for the better in Japan.
The only true voyage of discovery would be not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes.
Matsukawa (revisited), Learning Japanese, Advanced Japanese Manners, Hakone, home cooking.
Making Restaurant Reservations in Tokyo
Cafe de l'Ambre
Sushi Sho Masa
Bear Pond Espresso
Park Hotel Tokyo
New Year in Kyoto
Quotes from Chefs
Quotes from Farmers
Quote from Zen monks
Kwon Sook Soo
Yau Yuen Siu Tsui
Art Museums in Tokyo