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An animal shelter run by volunteers opened this week in Hino, western Tokyo, to shelter for free pets evacuated last year with their owners from volcanic Miyake Island, south of Tokyo.

The facility will shelter dogs and cats of former Miyake residents. They have experienced difficulties caring for their pets since moving to Tokyo’s public housing units, which generally ban residents from keeping pets, shelter officials said.

The two-story shelter will be managed by a private organization comprising groups such as the Tokyo Veterinary Medical Association and the Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the officials said.

Built by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the shelter boasts amenities including an exercise yard and a place for medical treatment.

Although the shelter will initially house 29 cats and dogs, it is set to gradually increase its capacity, the officials said, adding that the shelter will be capable of housing 90 dogs and 120 cats.

According to officials, the shelter is currently looking for people to adopt the pets, temporarily or otherwise, and volunteers who can help on a 24-hour basis by feeding the animals and taking them for walks.

Since all residents were forced to evacuate the island in September due to volcanic activity, the metro government and the veterinary association have been looking after about 300 animals in total, mainly cats, dogs and rabbits.

As of March 15, 170 animals were still housed at various animal hospitals and facilities in the capital, while a number had been returned to their owners or placed in the care of foster owners.

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