More pet owners in Japan, graying or living alone, are turning to "guardianship" services for their dogs and cats in case they cannot look after their beloved animals upon their death or due to other unforeseeable events.

A nonprofit organization in Gifu Prefecture has provided such services through a mutual aid group it launched in 2017 to assist owners struggling to find reliable places to which they could entrust their pets.

Naoko Taketomi, who is in her late 70s, decided with her husband to join the group for the sake of their Shiba inu dog Riki, who has given the couple a renewed sense of purpose in their lives since they welcomed him as a puppy to their home from a pet shop around a decade ago.