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The city of Nagakute, Aichi Prefecture, is utilizing Japan’s furusato nōzei hometown donation system to support a second life for dogs that fail to become service animals.

There is currently no public support for such dogs, according to the Japan Service Dog Association. “There are people who need dropout dogs,” a Nagakute official said, seeking donations for them.

Service dogs assist people with disabilities, such as wheelchair users, helping them open doors and change clothes. Candidate dogs receive training over some 18 months, according to the association.

About 30 candidates are trained to become service dogs a year in the country. But 70-80% of them drop out as they are judged unsuitable.

During training, they can get financial support from municipalities for feeding and immunization. The aid is terminated, however, if they are found to be unqualified. Some ¥200,000 to ¥300,000 is necessary per dog per year, according to the association.

In 2018, Nagakute, one of the few municipalities hosting a service dog training facility, started soliciting furusato nozei donations to finance immunization fees for dropout dogs. In 2020, some ¥8.7 million yen had been donated as of late December.

Some dropout dogs actively engage in animal-assisted therapy for children who have been hospitalized for a long time, according to association official Ayumi Isogai.

“They are not loser dogs at all. We’ll find a second life for them,” Isogai said.

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