Formally established in 2004, OAARS is the only animal rescue group in Okinawa, Japan to be officially registered as a non-profit 501 (c)(3) and a private organization with both Marine Corps Community Services and Kadena Air Base.
OAARS works with the base and local community to rescue abandoned, mistreated, and lost animals in Okinawa, Japan. From a board member or coordinator to foster homes, OAARS is 100% volunteer based. Together, we have helped find loving homes for more than 3,000 animals on Okinawa.
We are always looking for volunteers and foster homes to join our team- the more foster homes we have, the more animals we can help. If you are interested, please explore our Volunteer page!
Homeless Animals in Okinawa
Okinawa has an alarming rate of homeless animals. The rate at which Animal Control kills these animals is even more alarming. Only ten percent of the animals that are brought to the Okinawa Animal Prefecture Animal Protection Center will survive. In 2003, 8,666 dogs and cats were taken into the shelter, 521 of them were found by their owners, 301 animals (mostly puppies and kittens) were given a new home. For the rest, they are given five days before they are placed in a giant incinerator with several oven doors and are put to death in a gas chamber. Cats are even less likely to live- they are tightly packed in four foot cages.
This problem in Okinawa is immense, due partly to the abandonment of pets by military personnel and civilians. Okinawa has one tenth of the amount of homeless animals that Tokyo does; however, the number of animals that are put to sleep in Okinawa is three times more than in Tokyo. Japan is greatly behind the United States and European Countries on the subject of Animal Welfare. Living in Okinawa can be a tragedy for animal lovers and even more of a tragedy for the animals.
There are few opportunities for unwanted animals to lead a happy life after their owners have abandoned them. In order to leave a pet at a shelter, it costs the owner $125+ and the pets must have a microchip and be up-to-date on vaccinations. Even with all of these fees and requirements, the shelter may become overcrowded and the animal will still be put down. If a pet is placed on the street, the owner can incur a $3,000 fine and the animal faces the high possibility of being gassed. Adult dogs are not even put up for adoption in this situation. Despite these depressing facts, many PCSing families leave their pets behind to face these consequences.
OAARS has worked with a variety of organizations within Japan & the United States. We have donated food, blankets, toys, grooming, funds, and various other volunteer services to the local no kill shelters and other local animal rescues. We have also transported animals to the US with the help from no kill shelters and other organizations.