Environment Ministry Implements New Law
Crown Prince could lead the way in the effort for mutt emancipation
By PHILIP BRASOR
Next month, the environment ministry and the health ministry will jointly implement a new law that provides subsidies to local government health centers for the feeding of abandoned or captured dogs and cats. The money is designed to make it possible for these centers to take care of the animals an extra three days, which presumably gives the facilities a little more time to find homes for them before they have to be put down.
The logic behind the law is based on the fact that most animals are destroyed within two or three days of arriving at public-health centers, but animal protection groups have complained about the subsidy. One pet-shelter professional wrote a letter to the Asahi Shimbun last month saying that it makes more sense to give the ¥350 million annually earmarked for the program directly to private animal shelters, since public-health centers are not really set up to promote pet adoptions. Three more days is not going to make much difference: the vast majority of these animals will still be destroyed. Private animal shelters, on the other hand, tend to keep their charges indefinitely and actively look for people to adopt them. In addition, many spay or neuter their animals so that once they are adopted they will not produce more animals.
Nevertheless, the law points to increased public awareness of the situation surrounding abandoned pets in Japan. Since the turn of the millennium the annual number of dogs and cats put down in public facilities dropped from about 600,000 at around the turn of the millennium to about 330,000 in 2006.
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