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AWL to Hold Fundraiser for No-Kill Shelter

By: Jena Maddalino

Date Posted: 2000-06-10

In an important move towards creating a better environment for unwanted animals, the Animal Welfare League will have a fund-raiser on Saturday, June 10th at the Morrigan's Irish Pub. The Animal Welfare League plans to use the funds raised to make a real impact on Okinawa by building a no kill shelter to house unwanted pets until they find a home.

If AWL succeeds, this will be the first on the island. Currently, no Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) or humane society operates in Okinawa, leaving individuals to care for stray cats and dogs. The Okinawa Prefecture runs seven animal centers on the island and the majority of animals given to the Prefecture animal centers are euthanised.

The original idea of building a no-kill shelter has been a work in progress for a local animal group called the Cherubims. Lead by Ms. Risa Nakamura, Cherubims has been working diligently to convince the government to subsidize the cost of neutering/spaying animals here. The cost is still very high and often dissuades pet-owners from having the operation done. The end result is what everyone can't help but notice - the startling amounts of stray cats and dogs on this island. These animals are often plagued with recurrent illnesses and parasites, which leads to a miserable existence. Nakamura also fosters and finds homes for unwanted pets, which has led to her idea of building the shelter.

The Animal Welfare League joined forces with Cherubims some time ago to promote animal issue and to educate people about the responsibility of owning a pet. The AWL also gives out information at the Camp Foster Newcomer's brief and offers advice to pet owners.

"Building a no kill shelter is a starting point for real impact," says AWL board member Kathy Diener. Currently, thousands of cats and dogs are killed at the Prefecture animal centers and the living conditions of the animals are not the same as stateside standards as they are placed together in crowded spaces. The animals are given roughly 5 days to find a new owner - the odds being against their favor.

Designs for the shelter have been drafted and Nakamura is currently negotiating land prices with a local owner. The organizations just need the funds to complete their goal.

"We hope that this shelter will be a focal point for a movement to start in Okinawa, " added Diener. The ultimate goal being the spread of information and a better understanding for the need to sterilize pets. Animals rights is an issue that is still ignored in Okinawa, and by some estimates, the Prefecture is twenty years behind the US in animal rights laws. AWL has also recently contacted larger organizations such as PITA and the WSPCA to help the cause.

Tickets for the fundraiser are currently on sale for 5000 yen/$50. Proceeds will go directly to the AWL to be used only for the shelter. The event will be held at the Park Avenue location of the Morrigan's and will start at 8PM on Saturday. The ticket includes all you can eat/drink as well as Irish and Jazz entertainment.

For tickets or more information, please call Kathy Diener at 637-4024.

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