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Japan's Unwanted Dogs Face Almost Certain Death

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By Kim Kyung Hoon and Olivier Fabre For Reuters

TOKUSHIMA, Japan (Reuters Life!) – It’s a dog’s life for a stray mutt in any country, but in Japan a canine that ends up in the municipal pound is far more likely to be put down than to find a new home.

While in some other industrialized countries the idea of “saving” a pet from a shelter is well-established, in Japan animal welfare activists say strays often fall foul of an attitude that prizes puppies and pedigrees as status symbols.

“In Britain, the public go to animal welfare shelters to adopt an animal and save a life. The mindset in Japan is still ‘if you want a pet, go to a pet shop’,” said Briar Simpson, a New Zealander who works for Japan’s animal shelter ARK, via e-mail.

In Britain, approximately 6 to 9 percent of dogs in pounds are put to death every year, 2007-2009 figures show, according to the website of Dogs Trust, the nation’s largest dog welfare charity.

In Japan that figure is more than 70 percent, the Japanese animal welfare organization ALIVE says.

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