• Kyodo

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A 39-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly dumping 80 dogs near a river and on a mountain in Tochigi Prefecture.

Masaki Kimura, a former pet shop employee from Nasushiobara, Tochigi Prefecture, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of abandoning 45 dog carcasses on the banks of the Kinugawa River, as well as 27 dead and eight living dogs on a mountain in Nakagawa, between Oct. 30 and 31.

Kimura turned himself in at the Utsunomiyahigashi Police Station on Nov. 11 and allegedly told officers he saw several media reports about abandoned dogs and thought he would be arrested.

The police had launched an investigation after the decaying bodies of dozens of dogs were found near the river in late October.

Kimura allegedly said he got the dogs from a breeder in Aichi Prefecture to sell or give away, but they died while he was transporting them in wooden boxes on a truck and he didn’t know what to do with them.

He also said he received ¥1 million from the breeder for taking care of the dogs, according to police.

The police are investigating how the dogs died.

Most of the abandoned dogs were 5 to 10 years old and of popular breeds, including miniature dachshunds, and had not been neutered or spayed, an investigation source said. Investigators found signs that some of the animals had given birth.

After the dogs were found in Tochigi, similar cases came to light around the country. Since September 2013, more than 200 abandoned dogs have been found in several prefectures, including Gunma, Saitama, Yamanashi and Saga.

A dog breeder in Tochigi said breeders sometimes give older dogs that have become infertile to dog dealers.

Lawyer Atsushi Hosokawa, an expert on pet-related laws, said it is necessary to strengthen regulations on dog dealers to prevent the animals from being abandoned.

“We have to shut down malicious pet businesses that easily dump or abandon dogs that are no longer needed,” he said.

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