Hours after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan March 11, veteran animal rescuer and former Surrey resident Ashley Fruno was in the Manila airport, waiting for a flight to Tokyo.
The PETA Asia senior campaigner managed to get a seat on the very first flight into Tokyo’s re-opened airport and immediately travelled to the worst-hit coastal areas of Japan.
Walking for kilometres a day and sleeping in her car, Fruno provided vital food, water and care to animals that were abandoned when citizens fled to evacuation centres.
Because of Fruno’s immediate action, PETA Asia was the first international animal rights group to reach affected areas in Japan.
“So many animals were left to face this disaster on their own when their guardians were forced to evacuate without them,” said Fruno. “We urge families around the world to make emergency plans for their animals today – before disaster strikes – because nobody should have to make a heartbreaking choice between their dogs and cats and their own safety.”
Because many evacuation centres in the area do not allow companion animals, many people have had to choose between staying in unstable, damaged homes with their dogs and cats and abandoning them to fend for themselves.
Fruno visited the worst-affected areas in the city of Sendai in search of animals who needed help, assisted crowded animal shelters, and distributed dog food to families who were unable to purchase their own supplies.
The animals helped by Fruno included a cat who had been retrieved from a decimated house by a soldier and an injured dog, Shane, who swam through floodwaters to be reunited with his owner.
Although her mother grew up on a dairy farm and her grandfather was president of the local rodeo board, Fruno has always cared about animals.
Now, Fruno is based in Manila, where she coordinates campaigns, web pages, marketing projects, investigations and the internship program for PETA Asia.
In addition to her animal rescue efforts – including in the Philippines following Tropical Storm Ondoy – she has participated in eye-catching demonstrations in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and elsewhere around the world.
For more information, visit PETA.org.