The Yomiuri ShimbunFor pet owners, their animals are irreplaceable. The duty to protect the lives of pets must be reaffirmed.
A bill aimed at revising the Animal Protection Law to prevent the abandonment and abuse of dogs, cats and other pets, was passed into law in the last Diet session.
The revised law will impose more severe punishments on anyone who has killed or wounded a pet, with imprisonment terms to be increased from the current two years or less to five years or less. Cases in which dogs and cats are abandoned or abused will be subject not only to a fine of up to ¥1 million, as is the case currently, but also to a prison term of up to one year.
In recent years, there has been an increasing number of incidents involving animal abuse that have led to arrests and other investigative actions. There has been a succession of videos posted on the internet in which pets are shown being abused. There have also been problems with breeders raising dogs in abominable conditions or abandoning large numbers of animals.
A course of action taken to halt animal abuse by toughening the law is understandable.
The revised legislation has made it mandatory for dogs and cats to be implanted with microchips.
Pet breeders among others will be required to implant under the skin of dogs and cats electronic devices as long as about one centimeter carrying identification numbers. Pet owners must register their names with designated institutions. This system is designed to identify owners through their pets’ identification numbers.
The system will help to identify stray dogs and cats while also deterring owners from irresponsibly abandoning them.
The revised law will change the age at which pet shops can sell puppies and kittens, from over 49 days old to over 56 days old. This is in response to observations that customers are more likely to buy a puppy or a kitten impulsively the younger it is, resulting in a higher likelihood of abandonment.
Many owners consider their pets as partners and part of their families. There has also been an increase in cafes and other facilities where people can spend time with their pets.
However, a number of dogs and cats are put to sleep by local governments for such reasons as owners having abandoned their responsibility to look after them. In fiscal 2017, the figure stood at more than 40,000.
There has been a downward trend in the number of animals killed by local governments. The current figure is about one-seventh the amount it was 10 years ago. It is safe to say that efforts such as those by local governments and animal welfare societies to find new owners for unwanted dogs and cats have borne fruit. Such efforts should be continued.
Due to an increase in the longevity of pets, there is a growing need to take considerate care of aging animals. Owners must be prepared to responsibly look after their pets for the entirety of the animals’ lives.
Recently, there has also been a rise in the number of aging owners. Despite wishing to keep their pets, more than a few people have had to part with them for such reasons as illness. There have been cases in which people have been unable to look after their parents’ pets after their parents died.
It is useful to make progress in improving and expanding pet ownership transfer networks and facilities that look after unwanted pets.