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Amy Chavez’s Oct. 1 Japan Lite column about Maruko, the dog from Iwate Prefecture (“Not just cats — will dogs also get nine lives?“), left me fuming. While it had a happy ending, the apathy and lack of common sense displayed by the hokenjo (local health centers that operate animal pounds) was unbelievable!

First, they couldn’t find the compassion to hold Maru longer than the standard five days, even though her owners were in a temporary shelter after the Tohoku earthquake.

Next, when well-meaning volunteers from the Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support network stepped in to save the dog from being gassed, the pound neglected to inform them about her owners. When her owners came back to claim her, nobody at the pound had made a note of JEARS’ contact information.

The dog was being fostered on the other side of the country, and returning her took a huge chunk of effort and money from volunteers with already limited resources.

Until the government changes the current system and staffs the hokenjo with trained people genuinely concerned about animal welfare, Japan’s dismal animal rights track record won’t improve.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

louise george kittaka

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