Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hokenjo's and Aigo centers

"Protection facilities" and "Tender care centers" are two misnomers of the highest degree.The names would suggest that they take positive nurturing action on behalf of their four legged charges. The hokenjyos attempt it for five days if you are a dog and three days if you are a cat. After that your spirit will find itself in front of the pearly gates with a fierce headache and a sore throat.You'll have been asphyxiated by a lethal gas along with other lost, relinquished or "stray since birth" animals. This happens the length and breadth of the country. Gas has cheaper overheads than individual injections, it also means the staff at these places do not have to have direct contact with the animals being euphemistically "put to sleep".

Before any high horse is "got up upon" this situation does not only happen in Japan. Be advised to check your whereabouts before throwing any stones.Methods may be different, time frames for reprieve may be longer (or shorter) but it is happening on everyone's doorstep. It just depends on how big an area of your personal rug you'll allocate to sweep it under.

It is from one of these centers the Maruko story came about and then the Tufty story a few weeks later. I am heading back up again at the end of this month and my main focus will be dealing with these centers  up and down the coast and hopefully getting animals out. JEARS just got 35 animals of all shapes and sizes out of a Miyagi prefecture hokenjyou and sent out a plea for temporary foster homes.

Little bit of background knowledge of animal ownership in Japan. If you have a dog, you are obliged to get an annual rabies shot and register your dog with your city hall.You can get your dog's  rabies shot at your vet or a subsidised vaccine at a  rabies prevention clinic in May. The vet option is a little less stressful for your pooch as the world, his wife and their dogs attend the "Shot in the Park" events.This registration tag attached to the collar is what will get you your dog back if it should decide to go for an unaccompanied stroll. It unfortunately also makes it too easy to dump an animal, as by removing the collar people render their once cute puppy "owner-less". Microchips barely got a look in until the Ban event (Dog survivor, stuck on floating debris found 3 weeks after the tsunami), now they are being considered.

The animals find themselves in the hokenjyous for two main reasons. First, because they have been displaced. No one knows where they came from.Locals call in the stray and the officials go out to trap them and bring them to the facility (Tufty, below). Second, they are relinquished by owners. In Tohoku's case these owners may have no other means of supporting them anymore OR the place that they have evacuated to has a no pets policy and they either have no one or don't want to impose on anyone  the care of their pet. JEARS has been trying their damnedest to get to those people before they sign away their pet's life.An owner turn-in is a death sentence. Speaking to the caretaker we can let them know about the free boarding, open space, two walks and care the animal will have until the people in their lives have got themselves right way up.

The first group of hokenjyou temporary residents are harder. The city has assumed responsibility for them and will only let them see the outside world again if they are to reside IN that city's jurisdiction and at a stretch the prefecture. This is where it gets difficult for out of prefecture volunteers with big hearts, broken Japanese and a passion for animals to accomplish what they came for.(Maruko, waaaay below).

So that is tentatively what I am steeling myself for, for the next trip.I hope there will be many more Tuftys and Marukos on the next trip.

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