The human death toll from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami has officially exceeded 7,000 people, with more than 10,000 still missing. Donations to charitable organizations working in Japan have lagged way behind those for other crises like last year's earthquake in Haiti, perhaps because people believe that a developed nation like Japan can take care of itself.
One group that cannot take care of itself is the house pets who have been separated from their humans. (Note that I didn't say "owners"; anyone who's lived with a cat recognizes the silliness of a concept like "owning a cat"!) According to this story from NPR, most Japanese families have some kind of pet—a dog, a cat, birds, a rabbit, etc.; many of those pets are in dire need of assistance. Three Japanese groups that were working long before the earthquake/tsunami have united under the common banner of "Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support." Their volunteers are combing the rubble, searching for cats and dogs, which I hope brings some small measure of comfort to the people who are stuck in shelters, unable to return to their homes (if they even have homes to return to), not knowing whether their beloved pets are dead or alive and struggling to survive on their own.
You can get more details about Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support through their Facebook page, or you can jump straight to their ChipIn page to donate. (NOTE: When you click the orange "ChipIn!" button at the right side of the page, you'll be taken to the group's PayPal page, which is displayed in Japanese by default. If, like me, you don't read Japanese, just click on the 3 Japanese characters at the top right corner of the page and select "English" from the drop-down list. If the page is down, please try again a little later.)
It's not my place to tell people how to spend their money, but if you do want to help, this seems to be a reputable organization, and I'm happy to support them with my money and my words. If I were faced with the loss of my home, my possessions, perhaps even much of the city I grew up in, I'd be devastated, of course, but I think I could get through it if I knew that my loved ones—all my loved ones, including the four-footed one—were safe.
H/T to erv and ICanHasCheezburger