How to Help Japan’s Animals and Pets

New Orleans, LA, September 19, 2005 -- A FEMA ...

A search-and-rescue dog takes a break during Hurricane Katrina disaster relief. Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know about you, but the photos of animals reunited with their Japanese humans has been killing me this week. And the photos of dogs getting scanned for radiation? Haunting. It’s easy to overlook the plight of our furry best friends during a disaster of this scale that is still unfolding. But,¬†Hurricane Katrina was a big wake-up call for me, and that’s when I first started donating to animal organizations.

So how to help Japanese animals? Global Animals has set up a page to compile the various animal-related organizations in Japan who need our help. I just donated to World Vets, an organization that is actively on the ground in Japan, trying to help.

If you’re hesitant, need I remind you of what our canines do for us in disasters? (The photo, in case it changes as The New York Times adds more photos, is of a search-and-rescue dog.)

I want to leave you with this article of a dog protecting an injured dog, both of them left abandoned in the rubble. It made me get out the credit card and do something.

What’s That Floating in the Water? Is It a SEA COW?

Last week I finally got to see a real, live, wild Florida manatee — a true gentle giant that’s been endangered basically as long as Floridians have had motorboats.

While it wasn’t quite as euphoric as when I swam with whale sharks, seeing the manatee was enjoyable and worth the effort.

How it went down: The island where we stayed is only accessible by boats — no cars allowed, which is a TERRIFIC thing — and so there are a lot of docks on the lagoon side. Each morning I would wake up and wander out to our dock, hoping to see the fabled Florida manatee. And I’d wait. And wait. And wait.

Where yours truly patiently waited to see her first sea cow. I probably took this photo while waiting.

One morning, after finally getting bored watching ibis (what’s the plural of ibis? ibises?) and herons muck about in the oyster beds, I started walking back to the beach house. Then I heard….

“SCCCCCCCHHHHHHHNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOFFFFFFF”

I snapped my head around and saw what looked like an alligator floating on the surface. It sunk down and disappeared. Meh. Alligators are old news for me — lizards of all sizes are common in Texas. But what was the schnoofing? Alligators don’t schnoof.

Then the schnoof sounded again, and I realized the creature was enormous.

Sea cow enormous.

At first glance, I mistook these giant nostrils as alligator eyes. The swirly effect behind the nostrils further convinced me it was a reptile.

Still, I ran to the end of the dock to get a closer look. Manatee?!

Yes. Manatee! "SCHNOOOF."

After I saw him/her, I couldn’t get a certain¬†Pixies song out of my head, especially this refrain:

“What’s that floating in the water/Old Neptune’s only daughter?”