Adopting a Dog or Cat in Japan
In Japan, people often pay more than 100,000 yen (roughly $1000) for pet cats and dogs. That is a completely NORMAL price to pay at a pet store here. Sometimes the breeds are a bit special, but often people are shelling out that kind of money for “American Shorthair” cats which can be easily adopted for free from any shelter.
The problem is that most people here don’t know about shelters, so they think that if they want to have a pet, they have to save up their money for a few months and go to a pet shop. In the meantime, thousands of perfectly good pets are being euthanized by the authorities in every prefecture every year.
As an example, Ibaraki Prefecture (one of 47 prefectures) captured or took in 7,642 dogs and cats in 2006. Of that number, 222 pets were returned to their owners. The rest, 7420 cats and dogs, were euthanized. That is just in a single prefecture. And, in fact, that number is actually low compared to the 16,565 pets that were taken in by the prefecture in 2001. (In 2001, Ibaraki started a plan to halve the number of pets who get taken in by the prefecture every year. So the 7,642 figure is actually the result of strenuous efforts by the authorities!) The number for all of Japan must be just shocking, especially since it seems that Ibaraki was the second prefecture to adopt this plan to halve their numbers, so they might just be doing a better job than the authorities in many other prefectures. (I looked for a number for all of Japan, but wasn’t able to find it. Can anyone help me with this?)
In the past, it was impossible to find any information in English about adopting pets in Japan. These days, however, there are a few groups that are making it easier for people to find pets who are in need of new homes — without having to fork over hundreds of thousands of your hard earned yen. In particular, Angels with Fur Japan has recently put a panel on the side of its website showing dogs and cats who are up for adoption through Tokyo ARK and other organizations.
So, if you are looking for a pet, PLEASE have a look at the Angels with Fur Japan website before you go to a pet store. Also, if you know of someone who is considering getting a pet, please let them know about the site. If there are no pets of interest to you on the site, there are plenty more to choose from at the shelters, so please contact Angels with Fur Japan for more advice.
(In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that I am the webmaster for the Angels with Fur Japan site. I don’t profit in any way from the site though, other than feeling REALLY good when I hear that a pet has been adopted because of it!)