Improve Government-Run Animal Pounds!
ALIVE No.100, by Fusako Nogami
Animal centers, pounds or shelters run by municipal
governments are usually unsanitary, and ALIVE has sent requests
asking operators to improve these facilities. Although municipal
governments are organizations that should educate and set a good
example to local residents, the way they treat the kept animals
is often extremely inhumane and cruel. This is clearly a form of
animal abuse. The standard for the appropriate care and management
of animals should be implemented.
Improve Municipal Government
According to the Ministry of the Environment’s
Summary of Animal Treatment and Management Administration (2009),
there are 518 dog pounds and 445 cat pounds operated by municipal
governments in Japan. Usually animals are kept at temporary facilities
or in these pounds, but some municipal governments, such as in Hokkaido,
destroy the animals they have been keeping.
Municipal governments are the administrative bodies. When owners
abandon their pets, first they will come to the municipal government.
Municipal governments collect unwanted dogs or cats at scheduled
times and places and they leave the collected animals at their facilities
for several days. These places are only for keeping the animals,
so the comfort and welfare of the animals are generally not considered
at all. Weaning infant animals can’t obtain enough nutrition
from their mothers, and if the environment they live in is not suitable
for their undeveloped bodies, they find it difficult or impossible
to survive. Puppies and kittens, as well as old animals, have more
trouble adjusting to the harsh environment, and so they tend to
die quickly from thirst or heat stroke.
On weekends and holidays, food supplies are not provided at some
facilities. According to the condition of the individual animals,
appropriate care must be taken. For example, it is necessary to
provide sufficient food and water should always be accessible. However,
the sad reality is that most municipal government-run facilities
in Japan do not provide appropriate care for the animals they keep.
Resolve the Regional Discrepancies
Among Municipal Government-Run Facilities
Up to now, I have visited over ten municipal government-run
shelters from Hokkaido to Kyushu. I have noticed there is a big
gap concerning the quality of the facilities provided by different
municipal governments. Municipal governments are responsible for
acting as good role models for pet owners and for showing individuals
and local animal businesses how to take care of animals. It is totally
unacceptable for their facilities to be so unhygienic. In addition,
the staff working the facilities lacks basic knowledge concerning
the care and management of dogs and cats, which is also a problem.
I have heard that no training is provided for the staff working
at the facilities with animals. Depending on the municipal government,
the number of cats and dogs that die at the facilities varies. This
marked regional discrepancy is an indication that the standard for
municipal government-run facilities needs be fully implemented.
Implement the Registration
System for Government-Run Animal Shelters
Some prefectural and municipal governments partially
or fully subsidize the operation and management of animal shelters.
For example, Fukui Prefecture subsidizes all operations, including
everything from shelter management to planning “be kind to
animals” week events, etc., while Kumamoto City works with
animal protection volunteers or organizations. These governments
also provide opportunities for people to interact with animals,
which is similar to what some animal handling businesses do.
When promoting the adoption of the animals in their keeping, the
government-run shelters have to be open to public and work closely
with local animal protection groups. In order to do so, the government-fun
facilities should also be registered and implement the management
and care standard.
Animal Protection Centers Should Make Transfer
Each year, the number of dogs and cats destroyed is
decreasing. The current trend is encouraging government-run pounds
to change from being places where animals are destroyed to shelters
where animals are kept and to make efforts to find new families
for the impounded animals. To that end, the facilities and the administration
process need to be greatly renovated. In order to improve the current
situation and install a new system, local people need to get involved
too. Some prefectures work in corporation with local volunteer groups
to find new families, walk dogs while keeping them temporarily,
and feeding them on the weekends.
Municipal governments should set a good example as animal care providers.
It is our hope that private citizens and the government will work
together at the local level to improve existing animal facilities
For the Amendment of the Act
on Welfare and Management of Animals in 2012
The Ministry of the Environment is working to amend
the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals in 2012. In August
2011, there was an intense discussion about “government-run
• The animal facility standard (government-run facilities,
care/management and information disclosure)
• The method of destroying animals (painless euthanasia and
• The rules on accepting unwanted animals (identify the owners,
check the past record of the owners and check whether they are breeders
The outline of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals and
other resources are available on the Ministry of the Environment’s
website. (Japanese text only)
Committee of Environment and Animal Protection (No.19)
concerning “government-run facilities” prepared by the
Ministry of the Environment