Why You Should Never Buy A Pet In Japan

The pet industry in Japan is booming with people spending more than JPY 1,450 billion a year for about 20 millions of pets on the archipelago (2014 data). It is not uncommon here to see people walking an all-dressed up dog in the street or to see hordes of curious onlookers flattening their noses against the glass walls of a pet shop in the hopes of catching a glimpse of a cute puppy. However, the pet industry in Japan is darker than it looks, and here’s why.

Why breeding pets is a problem

People buying animals from pet shops are often looking for a specific type of breed. The trends change fast and breeders often have to adapt quickly to the demand for a particular breed. If you happen to walk in the streets of Tokyo, you will often see the same types of dog breeds: Dachshund, Shiba Inu, Poodle, French Bulldog, Chihuahua… This temporary demand eventually leads breeders to accelerate their breeding process and selectively breed animals with the same characteristics in order to have offspring adhering to a really strict standard. However, selective breeding, which seeks to preserve a certain genetic mutation in an animal, can lead to severe health issues such as heart disease, cancers, hip dysplasia… By buying pets from a pet shop or breeders, consumers support all the downsizes of the industry including the increase of animals suffering from painful medical conditions due to selective breeding.

Overcrowded shelters and gassed pets

Every year, about 80% of the abandoned cats and dogs are gassed. Yes, you read right, 200 000 pets are legally killed every year because of overpopulation. Some people decide to abandon their pets after some time because it requires too much work for them or because their breed is less fashionable. The lack of education about spaying and neutering also encourage this phenomenon as pets are capable to reproduce really quickly if released in the wild. The department of Public Health is in charge of dealing with this “problem” and, because of the lack of shelters in Japan, most unwanted animals end up suffering a terrible death in a gas chamber. Pet shops in Japan are responsible for most of these abandonments as they encourage irresponsible behaviors and extensive breeding. The pet shop industry is mainly responsible for the death of thousands of healthy animals a year.

If you want to know more about the gassing process of pets in Japan, check out this Reuters article.

Japan has enormous progress to make when it comes to animal welfare legislation. There is a serious lack of education regarding the treatment of animals in the country and pets are no exception to this statement. By purchasing an animal from a pet shop, people are supporting a backward pet industry fostering the death and the mistreatment of thousands of animals per year. It is our role to educate other people regarding these abuses so that we can make a stop to this toxic industry.

You can find a list of animal shelters here, and here.