In Japan, nun helps rescue animals after disaster

In Japan, nun helps rescue animals after disaster April 13, 2011

Who knew?  Here’s a great story about a sister exercising a unique ministry to the survivors in Japan — some of them, the four-legged variety:

Sister Michael Marie spent nearly two weeks in Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami March 11, helping pet owners and farm owners cope and find hope amid the despair. Relief work is one of her callings, she says.

The 36-year-old nun from the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Clarksburg, Ohio is also a trained veterinary technician, a skill she acquired before she joined the convent.

Some people left their pets behind to go into evacuation centers — and she’d go find the animals. Many stayed with their animals despite the dangers in the Fukushima prefecture — and she’d visit the families and offer support during the stressful time.

This isn’t her first journey into troubled lands and won’t be her last. She is a volunteer for Kinship Circle, a non-profit group that says it is the first U.S. organization to send ongoing animal aid into remote and hard-hit parts of Fukushima , Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures. The organization is working with Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue And Support (JEARS) — a coalition of local NGOs, including Animal Friends Niigata, Japan Cat Network, and HEART-Tokushima.

“Animals react differently when they’re under extreme stress,” she says. “I’ve been able to help not only the animals but also the people. For people with companion animals it reduces their stress if they know their animals are being cared for while they’re in evacuation centers. “

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