“News Japan”, Fuji Television
Revealed The Reality of Pet Industry
ALIVE News 2009-11-12
In September 2009, “News Japan” (Fuji
Television) reported on a serial program called “Where Life
Exists,” which was about the pet industry in Japan. The first
show focused on some pet shops are open past midnight until early
in the morning. They sell puppies and kittens that are too young
to be sold. The second exposed the reality of breeders, showing
how corrupt they are and how they neglect and abuse animals at their
facilities. The last showed abandoned dogs and cats that are destined
to be disposed of.
The newscaster, Christel Takigawa, visited the facilities, researched
them and gave the report. The story had never been shown on TV before
this, so the response to the program was extremely great. In the
process of making the program, the founder of ALIVE Fusako Nogami
was interviewed by the staff. Here is the short version of the interview:
Tell us about pet shops that
are open all night.
The standards and practices in Act on Welfare and
Management of Animals says, “depending on the situation, animals
should not be exhibited or displayed for long hours and appropriate
exhibiting schedules should be set in order to reduce stress on
animals.” "Depending on the situation" is a very
vague expression and makes it difficult to enforce the regulation.
It is certainly a form of abuse, when small puppies or kittens are
removed from their parents and displayed in glass cases. It is also
very important for consumers to be aware that such setups are abusive.
Is it correct that no specific
durations are set when selling puppies?
The standards require to keep small puppies or kittens
that need nurturing with their parents and siblings for an appropriate
period of time. However this is also not happening.
In many Western countries, there is a regulation prohibits puppies
or kittens which are younger than 8 weeks old from being removed
from their parents or siblings. During the 8 weeks, puppies and
kittens receive nutrition crucial for their growth. This period
is also very important for puppies and kittens to establish their
mental strength and social skills, which will be the base for their
lives when living with humans later. This has been proven by the
studies of animal behavior and ethology. Consumers should not buy
puppies and kittens just because they are “small and cute.”
How can you recognize illegal
practices by corrupted breeders?
The Act on Welfare and Management of Animals defines
two types of abuse: The first one is intentional abuse, the second
one is care neglect. Since care neglect is not defined, police and
government officials do not become actively involved. In the video,
a dog dies because his leg got stuck in the cage and he could not
move. It is obviously a case of neglect, however it is very difficult
to prove it unless a veterinarian verifies it.
Talk about how dog breeders dispose of dogs.
Mass production of puppies or kittens causes mass
disposal of the animals. A lot of breeders breed many different
breeds of dogs, this wide range of breeds makes it impossible to
provide adequate care for the animals. One solution is to make the
disposal fee expensive for breeders or animal handling businesses.
When a veterinarian puts a dog to sleep, it usually costs about
10,000 yen. In comparison, when the government accepts a dog for
disposal purposes from an individual owner or a breeder, it only
costs 2,000 yen.
If government does not accept surplus dogs, breeders will either
starve the dogs or abandon them. In order to stop this kind of inhumane
action, the best solution is to implement a license system for breeders
and pet shop owners.
Can you tell us a little about
local governments and their involvement?
According to ALIVE’s survey, only 10% of local
government require ID from those who come to drop unwanted dogs
and cats. Only 39% of local government checks whether they are breeders
or animal handling business owners. While the treatment of animals
by individual owners has improved, abuses by unethical breeders
still exists. It will be impossible to reduce the number of dogs/cats
who are destroyed, unless unethical breeders are forced out of business
or made to change their ways.
Talk about how impulse shopping
adds to the number of dogs/cats destroyed.
When you buy a pet from a pet shop, you are helping
the breeding businesses and indirectly adding to the number of pets
destroyed. It is very important for consumers to know the reality
of the pet industry and start to chose not to buy pests at pet shops.
Is gas an ethical form of euthanasia?
The gas chambers currently used used to destroy animals
were designed and put into use a long time ago, when there were
a million animals a year that needed to be destroyed. The old fashioned
facilities are decrepit and cause great pain and suffering to the
animals that are destroyed. The number of animals destroyed has
decreased and it is necessary to replace the method with something
more humane, such as using anesthesia.