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For the dogsI’m not a big spender. Okay, I’m cheap. Spending money, particularly on myself, is something that’s always been a bit of a struggle, a struggle I know I share with a lot of people. Even when I have a gift card—something intended to be spent on myself—I often take so long deliberating about what to buy, that the card ends up expiring before I buy anything.

Not this time, I promised myself. I have a $100 Visa gift card I’d gotten for Christmas, and I was going to use it. Today! And I found just the thing to indulge in. A spa day? Dinner out? A new pair of shoes? Nope, bedding. Not terribly exciting, I know. But it isn’t justany bedding—we’re talking a gorgeous duvet cover and pillow shams. Usually costing twice as much, this beauty isn’t just a bargain, it’s gorgeous, too. Picture lush chrysanthemums and butterflies printed in warm shades of red, blue, green and yellow on a background of smooth ivory. Stunning! How could I resist?

I was all set to click “Process Payment” when I saw something that moved me to tears, a lot of tears. And I’m not a crier. The disaster in Japan is heartbreaking, no question, but as the days of news reports filled with incomprehensible statistics and nuclear threats have gone on, I’ve found myself almost becoming desensitized to it, an unfortunate reality as time and distance grow between something traumatic and the everyday. But sometimes, something happens—like today—that  makes the past event even more real, even more present, and even more moving than I can say.

I came across a video of a dog taken after the tsunami in Japan, posted on Yahoo news. You can link to it here but please be warned, it’s utterly heartbreaking. The footage is of a dog who’s shivering, dirty, and disoriented from the tsunami, but who is refusing to leave another dog lying near him on the ground, badly injured. The story has a happy ending—the dogs have reportedly been rescued and are doing well—but it’s an all-too vivid reminder of the bleak reality facing the thousands of animals left behind in the wake of the disaster. And it breaks my heart.

Fortunately, there are organizations fighting to help these animals, organizations such as World Vets, an international nonprofit that provides veterinary aid around the globe. Aid to animals just like the scared, shivering dog in the video. World Vets is currently readying supplies to send to Japan, as well as preparing to deploy a first-responder team to carry out an “on the ground” assessment and provide initial aid. And donations are urgently needed to coordinate help for these animals. Any amount will help. Any amount, including a Christmas Visa gift card that couldn’t have been better spent.

For more information on how to help the animals in Japan, please go to worldvets.org.

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