Japan Government Euthanizes Companion Animals

The Ministry of the Environment has announced that more than 24,000 dogs and cats were euthanized at public health centers nationwide from April 2020 to March 2021. The announcement was made much later than usual because the public health center prioritized measures against COVID-19.

While the number of abandoned dogs and cats at public health centers is surging, it is the general public and volunteer organizations that save lives from being euthanized. The government cannot proceed with its work to protect those animals without the help of the general public.

In areas where animal welfare organizations are active, such as Hokkaido, the euthanize rate is within 6%, while in areas with very few animal welfare organizations, such as Nagasaki Prefecture, the euthanize rate is 71%. The gap among different regions is widening.

Local public health centers and the Ministry of the Environment are aware of the fact that they cannot achieve the goal of “zero-culling” without the help of the general public. Even so, many animal groups claim that they cannot really help the Government because officials are too proud of themselves.

In Japan, dogs and cats are legally-classified as “properties”. Stealing a family dog or cat is considered as a theft but not kidnapping. Killing or injuring a family dog or cat is considered as destruction of property. It is time for Japan to learn from other countries and recognize that dogs and cats are not “properties” but irreplaceable companion animal. Dog and cat meat consumption in Asian countries, including Japan, is based on false superstition and lack of moral education. This is an outdated practice.

The World Dog Alliance (WDA) will continue to convey the message that dogs and cats are companion animals and an indispensable part of human lives, and will work to influence lawmakers and the government.

Photo: The Ministry of the Environment