Gov't backs campaign to change pet disposal sites to
April 2 2009 KYODO NEWS
The central government is rallying behind local governments
in turning facilities where abandoned dogs and cats are
put to sleep into shelters where the animals can get new
The Animal Protection Guidance Center in Funabashi, Chiba
Prefecture, a city along the Bay of Tokyo with many warehouses
and plants, is a forerunner of such shelters.
In a garden-like space surrounded by wire cloth, several
dogs are kept, and a center employee is taking one of them
on a walk. Within the center, there are ''private rooms,''
and the temperature is maintained by ventilation.
''I think we can wipe out the old prison-like image,'' said
Tetsuji Kusa, a section chief at the city's health center
who has helped from the designing stage to turn the detention
center into a shelter.
''We are trying to achieve zero disposal and keep dogs and
cats which become attached to people. We kept one animal
for seven months until its new owner was found,'' he said.
Fusako Nogami, representative of Alive, an
animal protection organization in Tokyo, said such facilities
are still few. ''Many facilities pack dogs and cats into
concrete-reinforced rooms with no air conditioning or ventilation
and dispose of them in gas rooms several days later.''
According to a nationwide survey by Alive, about 100,000
dogs and some 210,000 cats were disposed of in fiscal 2007,
while about 30,000 dogs and some 6,500 cats were returned
to their owners or found new owners.
In recent years, however, people, mostly those
in urban areas, have come to regard pets as members of their
families and keep them in rooms in their houses, reducing
the number of those brought to health centers. Dogs and
cats disposed of totaled about 650,000 in 1997, but the
number has halved, and those handed over to new owners are
As the number of dogs and cats brought to
detention centers is decreasing, the centers can now have
some leeway, enabling them to extend the period before disposal.
The Environment Ministry also plans to start in the current
fiscal year 2009 to extend subsidies to turn such facilities
across the country into shelters.
But there are many problems before zero disposal can be
achieved. Many cats that are put to sleep are newly born
stray cats. Unless the cats are neutered, like domestic
cats, facilities say they must keep disposing of kittens.
The situation differs depending on regions.
For example, in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, there are
many people who want puppies but few puppies are kept at
shelters. On the other hand, more than 1,000 puppies are
put to sleep annually in Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures.
Nogami said, ''There are problems with the
transfer of such abandoned animals to other prefectures,
including conducting follow-up checks, but that is possible
if there are tie-ups between animal protection organizations
in and outside prefectures.''
''It is desirable for the local governments to improve detention
facilities while the private sector becomes in charge of
transfer consultations and follow-up procedures.''