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Liz Rouse, left, president, and Christine Thomas, vice president of the Okinawan American Animal Rescue Society, are seeking new owners for 40 dogs destined to be euthanized unless new homes are found by the end of March. OAARS plans to host a pet adoption event Saturday on Camp Foster.
Liz Rouse, left, president, and Christine Thomas, vice president of the Okinawan American Animal Rescue Society, are seeking new owners for 40 dogs destined to be euthanized unless new homes are found by the end of March. OAARS plans to host a pet adoption event Saturday on Camp Foster. (Chiyomi Sumida / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — An American nonprofit animal rescue organization on Okinawa is appealing for help as the clock ticks down for the lives of some 40 dogs.

Racing against an end-of-March deadline, after which unadopted dogs will be euthanized, members of the Okinawa American Animal Rescue Society (OAARS) have been seeking homes for more than 80 dogs discovered in the home of a local elderly woman.

“We are desperate in finding homes for them,” said OAARS president and founder Liz Rouse. “So far, 40 dogs have found new homes. But 40 are left.”

A local online animal shelter called “Wish!” got in touch with the organization in February, after the organization was contacted by the 82-year-old woman, who had received an end-of-March eviction order from her rental home in central Okinawa. Workers discovered the dogs were kept indoors from birth and have had little contact with people.

“The oldest dogs are about two years old and the rest of them are mostly between six weeks and six months,” she said. “The lady needs to move out of the house by the end of March and because she is on welfare, she is not allowed to have any pets.”

OAARS members have been seeking new owners for the dogs through their pet adoption events, announcements on their Web site and through word of mouth.

OAARS also is looking for people who can offer foster homes for the dogs and volunteers who can take the animals to the States to place them in animal shelters, said the organization’s vice president, Christine Thomas.

Rouse’s daughter, Angela Rouse, is among those who already have stepped in to help. She flew from Virginia earlier this month to pick up seven dogs, the maximum number the airline allowed to fly with her, Rouse said.

With her daughter’s help, the dogs were sent to an animal shelter in Virginia.

OAARS’s next adoption event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the exchange area on Camp Foster.

Members of Wish! said they are grateful for the support they’ve been receiving from the U.S. military community.

“Their compassion and support give us the strength to keep us going,” said Tadashi Miyagi, who helps operate the online shelter.

OAARS also is working on rescuing all the animals in an Itoman shelter Thomas said “is extremely filthy and none of the animals are spayed or neutered.” Thomas, who visits the shelter regularly to care for about 30 dogs and farm animals, said the shelter owner is terminally ill and has no one to look after the animals.

The OAARS Web site at http://www.oaars.com has more information on the organization’s activities.

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