Volunteering is such a wonderful thing and many of us want to do our part to make the world around us a better place. Opportunities to volunteer abound on this tiny island they come in many different packages. No matter your interest there is an organization you can volunteer your time and talents to. One of these organizations is OAARS. OAARS or Okinawan American Animal Rescue Society is dedicated to making life better for our furry friends on the island. Even though it is a small island there is an alarmingly high rate of homeless dogs and cat. The local shelters are overwhelmed by the amount of animals and when you factor in how far behind Japan is on animal welfare it makes for a very sad situation.


There are many ways you can help OAARS from volunteering at their no-kill shelter to giving a monetary donation. I recently spoke with a two OAARS volunteers about their experience. Both Dasha and Rachael were kind enough to share their thoughts and pictures with me. Lots and Lots of pictures filled with love and four legged friends. They both believe so firmly in OAARS and its cause that it is hard not to be mesmerized by their words. Dasha even did a little Q&A for all of us.

Q. Why did I get started in the Fostering business?
My husband has always said my heart is too big for our house! If possible, I would open our home to every stray animal and child that comes along! We move too frequently to effectively foster children, and Rob is not into owning pets, so fostering animals is the perfect fit for our family. We can provide short term animal care no matter where we live, or how long we live there. It’s also a great way to “test drive” different animals and breeds, in the event we ever do own a pet.

Q. How do I like Fostering?
There are many benefits to fostering, besides the obvious warm-fuzzies. When home schooling, we used a litter of newborn abandon kittens as a science project. The kids charted their growth and behavior over a twelve week period. We bottle fed them every two hours (Bonus Points: Lesson in Responsibility!) and took them to a small base post office once a week to be weighed. That was always fun because it was very cloak-and-dagger. Since it was against the rules, the clerk would tell us when his boss wasn’t going to be there, and we’d sneak the kittens in to be weighed on the “ounces” scale. Once the kittens had been adopted out, he always told us how much he missed our weekly visits! Fostering also teaches difficult lessons about life. We lost one of the kittens in the above litter to a liver disease. Fostering hones math skills, too. For example: 6 puppies pottying on the porch every 2 hours for 24 hours = a whole lotta puppy poo!

Q: Do I find Fostering meaningful?
Absolutely. Foster parents provide an invaluable service to the adoption agency. We provide loving homes for animals in transition. We raise animals that are too young to be adopted. We nurse the wounded and sick until they are healthy and adoptable. If it weren’t for foster homes, these animals would be either stuck in cages, or culled from the stray community by local organizations. Foster parents keep animals alive. Thanks to OAARS and their wonderful team of foster parents, dozens of animals are given a new lease on life!

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If that doesn’t convince you to volunteer with OAARS I am sure Rachael’s testimonial will.

“I have been with OAARS since February of this year. I decided to be a foster parent because I am one of those people who as a kid brought every stray home. I would clean them up and then find them homes. It always made me feel good. I found OAARS at one of their adoption sites. My husband said look at the cute animals and warned me before hand that I can not have them all (I always ask him to keep the animals in the pounds) and that I better not cry if none where adopted.

I started talking to a lady who was in the midst of trying to figure out where the last two puppies where going to go. I asked her what she meant by that and she started talking to me about OAARS. She explained how they rescue and foster the animals until they find a new permanent home. I looked at my husband with the sad puppy dog eyes and he just smiled and said “Yes we can do this BUT you have to promise me not to get too attached “. But how can I not get attached!”

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If you would like to volunteer with OAARS please visit their website for more information. Please don’t hesitate to get involved and start making a difference in the lives of so many furry friends.


  1. Hi, do you happen to know if there are families on-post (Kadena) who possibly foster for in-coming families? We are PCS’ing during the heat of the summer and may not be able to ship our dog at that time. We were hoping to find a family who may be able to foster him a month or month & half before we PCS so he can be there before the heat really kicks in.

    If anyone has information about this, please let me know. Thanks!!

    I look forward to moving to Okinawa