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“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.