National

Aichi girl's essay on rampant, cheap killing of stray cats spurs crowd-funded picture book

Kyodo

An elementary school pupil’s essay on the killing of stray cats has prompted a group of writers and photographers in the Tokyo area to solicit money via crowd-funding to make a picture book based on it.

The essay, titled “¥78 no Inochi” (“A Life Worth ¥78”), was written by Chika Taniyama in 2012 after the student, then in sixth grade, learned at the time that more than 200,000 animals were being killed annually, and that the cost of putting one down was ¥78.

“It was gut-wrenching to know that a life costs only ¥78,” the 14-year-old junior high school student in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, wrote in the essay, which won top prize in an essay contest in her city.

The essay caught Makoto Tozuka’s eye after a local cartoonist turned it into a manga and posted it online last summer. The 28-year-old writer and others later decided to support an animal welfare organization that was planning to make a picture book based on Taniyama’s essay.

As of Thursday, the crowd-funding website Green Funding by T-Site had collected ¥2.24 million from over 350 people, more than double the initial target of ¥1 million. The project is now aiming to secure ¥2.5 million by March 31 to print more copies of the picture book than originally planned.

Tozuka wanted to send a message.

“I want people to think about life from when they are young,” she said. “If no one discards a cat, there is no need to slaughter them.”

Taniyama learned about the fate that awaits stray cats when kittens born to her beloved neighborhood stray were sent to an animal shelter.

In the essay, she wrote, “Keeping a pet means being responsible for a life. One cannot throw them aside like toys.”

In the fiscal year ended March 2015, around 100,000 cats and dogs were culled, 80 percent of them felines, according to Environment Ministry data.

Thanks to adoption promotion campaigns for cats and dogs, that’s roughly one-fourth of what it was in fiscal 2004.

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