Dogs and cats in animal shelters in Japan

Lynette A Hart, Tomoko Takayanagi, Chizuko Yamaguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Although there are proportionately fewer pet owners in Japan than in the United States, the keeping of indigenous Japanese dog breeds, along with those common in Europe and North America, is long-established. Japan has a centralized governmental network of animal shelters, which permits accurate record-keeping of the numbers of dogs and cats admitted, reclaimed, and euthanized. Although in the United States an accurate census is not simple to accomplish because a variety of humane societies and animal control agencies admit homeless dogs and cats, some cultural comparisons are possible. Despite recent increases in petkeeping in Japan, the numbers of dogs admitted to shelters have decreased from 345,136 dogs in 1984 to 243, 753 dogs in 1994. The numbers euthanized show similar declines, from 331,442 in 1984 to 219,831 in 1994. In the city of Tokyo, kittens account for the majority of the animals admitted: 34,745 kittens (55%) of a total of 62,803 dogs and cats in 1980; 12,805 kittens (61%) of a total of 21,075 in 1993. Cats usually are brought in after being found on the street and are not reclaimed by their owners; virtually all are euthanized. Most dogs, 61%, are caught as strays by shelter personnel. Among those admitted to Tokyo shelters, 41% are reclaimed or returned to the owner, 7% are adopted by new owners, and 52% are euthanized. Spaying and neutering of dogs and cats are not wide spread practices in Japan. There are few private shelters; the government provides no tax incentives for charitable contributions to such organizations. While American shelters invariably offer animals for adoption, most of Japan's governmental shelters do not. However, this is gradually changing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-163
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Anthropology
  • veterinary(all)


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