Animal Shelter ARK Celebrates Publication

Every week, the photos of cats and dogs seeking homes are presented in the Japan Times in collaboration with and in support of the nonprofit organization Animal Refuge Kansai. This week, ARK is anticipating the publication of its full-color photo collection “Rescue! Elizabeth Oliver’s Animal Refuge.” (Japanese title: エリザベス・オリバーの動物シェルター)

Book-signings with shelter founder Elizabeth Oliver will be held in Tokyo on Nov. 16 and in Osaka’s Umeda Kinokuniya on Nov. 22.

A full-color, 128-page, B5-size photo collection, “Rescue!” features photos by professional photographer Kyoko Harada and includes the history of ARK, an interview with Oliver and, most of all, beautiful photographs and introductions of many of the animals that live or have lived at the shelter.

“All the animals pictured in this book have come to ARK from sad backgrounds; abandoned, stray, thrown away, given up, abused,” a passage from the book reads. “But look at these animals now; relaxed, healthy and loving. They are the lucky ones.”

In addition to its rehoming activities ARK seeks to raise awareness of animal welfare in Japan and promote what it calls the “Five Freedoms” for animals: freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury and disease, freedom to express normal behavior and freedom from fear and distress.

Though founded by a non-Japanese and the first Japanese organization to become an International Associate of the RSPCA (England’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), ARK strives to work hand in hand with Japanese and Japan’s authorities to bring about change. Oliver, in an excerpt from the book, says, “Rather than criticizing local governments, individuals, and organziations, ARK hopes that they will, by seeing ARK’s methods and facilities, change to treat animals more humanely.”

“Rescue!” will be available in bookstores from Nov. 7 and through Amazon the following day. However, ARK is asking supporters to further help the animals’ cause and hold off purchases until the week of Nov. 16 or to reserve a copy of the book through ARK’s Tokyo branch. The reason for the at-first-seemingly unusual request is that, if 300 books are sold at Tokyo’s Kinokuniya bookstore that week, the book has a good chance of being put on the store’s “Best-selling List”. This list is picked up by stores around Japan, meaning “Rescue!” will go to local stores nationwide, a huge boon to the
organization’s work.

Elizabeth Oliver's Animal Refuge

‘‘Rescue!’’ a photo collection to be published on November 7 by Animal Refuge Kansai, features one of the shelter’s former animals, Yuu, an abused dog who is now preparing for a new life in England. The shelter’s founder, Elizabeth Oliver, and friends are seen on the book’s promotional sleeve.

This article was originally published in the Japan Times on Saturday, November 1, 2008.

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