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Anti Vivisection Action Network



Rogue breeder

ALIVE News 1999

Text: Andreas Knobel, photos: Sachi Ozeki@ALIVE

Currently there is no legal system in Japan restricting breeders, pet shop and "zoo" owners, importers and other professionals dealing with animals. While breeders are licensed in England and other countries, here anyone wanting to make a quick yen can set up shop.

We came across this problem breeder on some farmland in Nishio, a village nestled in the hills of Aichi-ken. Some shacks made from scrap wood were lined up, and as we drew closer a terrible stench emanated from the buildings.

Neighbours had for a long time been complaining about this rogue breeder, and on 27 October 1998 officials of the Aichi-ken Department of Hygene decided to investigate and entered the establishment. What met their eye defies description. Five to ten dogs were kept in boxes of two or three meters square each. Most of the animals were suffering terribly from scabies, and some looked a raw pink, having lost all their hair to the disease. Others again were bleeding from rubbing their itchy skin against the lattice frame of their cages. The ground was muddy with urine and faeces. Some of the dogs were unable to walk, weakened by the loss of blood or because their nails had grown too long.

All of the animals were ragged, mere shadows of their former selves, yet Golden Retrievers, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers and other fashionable breeds could be made out among them. Most of the dogs had never been vaccinated against rabies, an entirely unlawful situation.

The Department of Hygene in Aichi-ken challenged the breeder to transfer ownership of the dogs "voluntarily" and of 99 dogs rescued the 94 which he finally let go.

Upon hearing the news, volunteers from in- and outside the prefecture arrived, and with the help of the veterinary association began the lengthy process of treating the various skin diseases and parasites. Eight dogs died from exhaustion, and another sixteen who were in particularly bad shape had to be put down. At first, the remaining animals were frightened of the volunteers but gradually gained confidence, and had a happy look on their faces during the daily bath.

Finally, on 28 November potential foster parents from all over the country came to Aichi-ken, and the dogs that had been rescued from Hell began a new life.

Stories that make it into the papers are only the tip of the legendary iceberg: most cases never come to the public's attention. Note that the Nishio breeder could not be charged with cruelty to animals, and that the Department of Hygene had to intervene. Only when the situation at such establishments becomes so extreme that it constitutes a risk to public health will the authorities act.