ARK’s History

ARK was founded by current CEO Elizabeth Oliver in 1990. Elizabeth, who is from the United Kingdom, first came to Osaka Japan in 1968 to teach English. During her time teaching, Elizabeth came to the realization that many animals in Japan were homeless or being abandoned. With the help of close friends, Elizabeth took it upon herself to rescue these animals and care for them at her home.

At the time, monetary donations were sparse, so Elizabeth would make her own pet food and sometimes receive pet food from friends. As time passed however, more and more people came to volunteer and support Elizabeth and word started to spread. As the number of volunteers increased, so did the number of rescues.

As monetary donations increased, and the organization grew larger, regular volunteers were hired as staff and Animal Refuge Kansai officially established. With Elizabeth as CEO, ARK became a beacon of light for otherwise hopeless animals in the Osaka region.

Five years later in 1995, the Great Hanshin earth struck neighboring Kobe, Japan. The magnitude 7.3 earthquake devastated the lives of thousands of people and animals alike. Seemingly overnight, Elizabeth, with the help of numerous volunteers transformed her home and garden into an emergency rescue center. Over 600 dogs and cats were rescued and cared for by Elizabeth and her team. As a result, ARK was thrown into the spotlight and gained world-wide recognition.

Since then, ARK has continued to grow and is known as one of the leading animal rescue organizations in Japan. To this day, ARK continues to focus on its mission of rescuing and rehoming animals in need, as well as raising public awareness on responsible pet ownership.

1990: Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK) is established with Elizabeth Oliver as CEO
1999: ARK is recognized and approved as a non-profit organization (NPO) by Osaka Prefecture
2005: ARK Tokyo is established 2008: ARK is certified as an affiliate, by the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals).
2014: ARK Sasayama constructs its first set of dog kennels.
2016: ARK is recognized and accredited as a NINTEI non-profit organization (NINTEI NPO) by Osaka Prefecture
2016: ARK Sasayama constructs its second set of dog kennels
2020: ARK celebrates its 30 th anniversary

ARK’s Philosophy

ARK continues to follow its four main principles:
1) ARK will seek to find a family for its animals and provide socialization training. ARK will strive to care for its animal’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being, as best they can.
2) Provide spay and neuter procedures to its animals, to help reduce the number of strays and unwanted animals in the community.
3) ARK will strive to improve Japan’s animal welfare standard and provide educational programs to children.
4) Completion of ARK Sasayama; Japan’s first International Animal Welfare Center.

Adoption Count:
Thanks to the overwhelming support we have received since ARK was established in 1990, we have been able to rescue over six thousand animals. We look forward to your continued support in helping animals have better lives.

Total Adoptions

Dog: 4176
Cat: 2048
犬 Dogs 猫 Cats
1991 5 1
1992 83 18
1993 77 17
1994 59 12
1995 197 61
1996 101 52
1997 67 27
1998 78 28
1999 126 33
2000 161 50
2001 153 71
2002 148 60
2003 110 36
2004 167 44
2005 177 47
2006 196 97
2007 194 107
2008 184 100
2009 199 101
2010 204 116
2011 293 111
2012 172 141
2013 179 128
2014 146 135
2015 174 128
2016 150 149
2017 129  108
2018 84 85
2019 109 51
2020 54 42

*Statistics are combined with Tokyo ARK from 2012.

Animal Handling Licence was converted to Type Two as of November 13, 2014.