There are always circumstances everywhere, personal, family or financial problems where people are sometimes faced with having to give up their pet or pets. In other countries, shelters run by animal welfare organizations provide a safety valve providing a place where people can take them. Depending on the policy or situation of that shelter, the animal may be rehomed, or in the case of old animals moved to a sanctuary or possibly euthanized on grounds of health or temperament. So people know their pet has some chance.
In Japan the chance is zero. They are faced with only two alternatives; taking it to the hokensho or throwing it away. This where hoarders fill a niche. Faced with throwing their pet away or letting it go to be gassed, people grasp the hoarder’s life-line because they want their pet to survive whatever, than to face a certain death.
In reality of course the animals do end up surviving but in such horrendous conditions that it is really a living death.
Hoarders exist in every country and they tend to have the same characteristics wherever they are.
Hoarders profess to love their animals. Hoarders’ “love,” however, tends to be thinly veiled obsessive possessiveness. They do not want to part with their animals under any circumstance–even death. Hoarders notoriously believe that life endured in any amount of misery is preferable to death.
About one in five animal hoarding cases involves people who hoard the dead with the living. They may keep dead cats and dogs stacked in a closet or corner–or in bed with them.
Hoarders often hoard inanimate objects along with their animals: cigarette butts, soda bottles, newspapers, magazines, their neighbours’ trash, used sanitary napkins, etc. They are secretive too, usually living far enough from neighbours and the road to evade discovery for years. Hoarders often are almost frightening in their ability to one moment appear tearful, pleading, and pathetic, yet the next moment rage out of control. They can also become real physical threats.
– July 2000
In July 2000, ARK had to deal with involved a woman hoarder, living alone with over 100 dogs. A friend of hers had contacted us because he thought the woman needed help in reducing the numbers. Most of the dogs were confined to a prefabricated building which we couldn’t enter but could see the many emaciated and diseased dogs inside.
Ironically the dogs she kept outside were all plump and friendly. It was the ones inside that were killing each other due to hunger and stress. This woman took a perverted pleasure in watching puppies being born and then a week later watching them being eaten by the other dogs so in fact the numbers stayed relatively stable.
When we talked to her, she sounded quite normal and agreed to let us take six dogs for neutering. We promised to return them after their surgery had healed. One dog was heavily pregnant so we sent her to be neutered immediately. The following day the woman came to ARK asking to see the dogs. When we showed her the one that had been neutered, she said, “where are the puppies?”. We then explained how the puppies had been aborted during neutering. At this she went ballistic, screaming and calling us murderers and then went off and return with a can of gasoline which she threatened to use to burn down the place.
Of course we were reluctant to return the dogs to her, especially the one that had surgery, knowing it could face infection in such a dirty place, but we had no option. Either we returned them to her or she would put all our lives at risk by burning the place down. We realized at this point how hoarders can change instantly from being normal people one moment into maniacs the next.
We were able to rescue one puppy, Gachan, who has passed away at the age of 17 in April 2017.
Some years later we heard from the police she had had a traffic violation and was in prison. We visited her in prison and got her to sign over all the dogs for neutering, which she did. So we managed, while she was still in prison to go to her place and to get all the dogs neutered.
This case came back to haunt us 17 years later.
– March 6th 2017
We got a call today from Tamba hokensho.
Today’s phone call from the hokensho said there was a huge fire at her place yesterday with most of the dogs being burnt alive.
They also found her body.
There are apparently three dogs that survived and maybe another one or two roaming free outside. If they are taken by the hokensho, they will not be released to ARK, so we decided to go there to collect them.
– March 7th
We waited today for the police to give us permission to go to the horrid hoarder’s place, where the fire took place recently.
We finally got a call asking us to go there at 3. The place is a crime scene until they find out why the fire started. Compared with the place I saw 17 years ago (I had photos from that time which I handed to the police), it is an unbelievable tip; imagine 17 years of waste spread around.
The main reason we were there was to take back any remaining dogs. We managed to catch two (now back at ARK and which I’ve named DWEF and DWEF TOO, meaning Dog Which Escaped Fire).
Two are still on the loose. The hokensho were there too and we are relieved to hear they will let us take them all to ARK, even if they are caught in a hokensho trap.
It must have been an inferno with no escape. Really sad to see the five burnt bodies of the poor little ones who didn’t make it.
– March 8th
Today hokensho phoned to say the white dog was in their trap. So our staff set off to bring it home. They set the trap again but while they were there the second dog also entered the now empty trap. The white dog we now have is called BEACON and the brown dog, FLAME.
So mission accomplished in one journey. Now no dogs there.
It has taken 17 long years to finally see this case closed.
All four dogs; DWEF, DWEF TOO, BEACON and FLAME are sponsor dogs but of course if anyone could offer these dogs, who have endured such a terrible experience, a loving home, we would be very happy to let them have this chance.
– Elizabeth Oliver