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Isolated mountain in Shikoku a dumping ground for unwanted dogs


"One after the other, dogs are being abandoned in Ehime Prefecture. The place is commonly referred to as inusute yama (mountain where dogs are abandoned)," said the head of an animal protection organization in the Shikoku region.

His words evoke the image of ubasute yama, a legendary place in antiquity where impoverished families, unable to shoulder the burden of feeding or caring for their enfeebled parents, would take them to a remote place and abandon them to the elements.

Actually, folklorist Kunio Yanagita (1875-1962) concluded that the practice of ubasute was more likely the subject of legend, with origins in India’s Buddhist mythology. It does not seem to have ever been a common practice in Japan.

Not for humans at least. But Shukan Gendai (Dec 2-9) appears to have got wind of what it calls the "dark side of the pet boom," a place in Ehime Prefecture where abandoned dogs are left to fend for themselves.

Shukan Gendai's reporter visited Toon (pronounced Toh-on), a city of around 33,000 people located in central Ehime, to the east of the prefectural capital Matsuyama.

"At a grassy spot near the entrance to a shopping center," he writes, "I got out of my car and saw two white dogs flee. Looking further I saw a black dog, one with stripes and another with long brown fur. Then I saw a brown miniature dog and one with black fur.

"None of them were wearing collars, but they seemed to be accustomed to being around humans. But another pack of dogs that converged on the shopping mall parking lot seemed more feral."

Nearby, a petite elderly woman was observed opening a plastic bag and setting out leftover food.

For the past 10 years the woman had been feeding the dogs on a daily basis. Local residents had asked her to refrain from feeding them, but she continues.

"One of my neighbors had been keeping a dog, but when it got big he abandoned it on the mountain," the woman told the reporter. "Right after that he went out and got a new one. It's depressing to see humans sacrifice living things merely to indulge in their own egos."

"Aren't pets like members of the family?" the woman asked rhetorically. "Before they stop me from feeding the dogs, they should punish those who abandon their pets."

It appears that Ehime's "dog-dumping" mountain is just the tip of a huge iceberg of animal abuse. According to the Environment Ministry, on a national basis, Ehime, Kagawa and Tokushima in Shikoku accounted for three of Japan's top four prefectures for euthanizing pets in 2021: The combined total for the three was 717, accounting for 26% of all animals destroyed in Japan. A majority of these were said to be feral or homeless dogs.

Why, the writer wonders, are there so many abandoned animals in Shikoku? The answer was soon forthcoming.

"The dogs are brought here from Osaka, Kobe and other big cities," a person involved in the pet business is quoted as saying. "Crooks who profess to belong to humane organizations accept 'donations' while pledging to save animals from being euthanized. They are just using the dogs to make money, and afterwards take them to rural Ehime and release them."

Shikoku's hinterlands boast many mountains and forested areas where humans seldom venture.

"Dump a dog here, and nobody will catch you or punish you for it," the aforementioned source explained.

Alas, the nefarious schemes of unscrupulous humans may even be deeper, and more impenetrable, than the mountains and forests of rural Shikoku, the writer concludes gravely.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Terrible. Hate the puppy mill stores around Tokyo that showcase cute pets while noone knows the dark side of the industry.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Sigh. The more I learn about people the more I love dogs. Who could just abandon a family member? One wonders how such people who abandon dogs treat their human family? Just heart breaking to see.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

"Crooks who profess to belong to humane organizations accept 'donations' while pledging to save animals from being euthanized. They are just using the dogs to make money, and afterwards take them to rural Ehime and release them."

Hideous, and given how reticent the Japanese authorities are at pursuing business, religious orgs etc that prey on the public I doubt they will gave a damn about dogs.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Yes, very sad, and the old lady feeding feral dogs and encouraging them to the shopping center may even become a victim herself one day.

As to the Obasuteyama or Ubaseteyama 'legend', we have one here just up the road, the hill and cliff pointed out to me by an old lady working in the fields nearby.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Oops, edit, ubasuteyama...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Keep the dogs and try to find them a loving home, and bless this woman for feeding them despite the savages who demand she stop. And, catch and imprison the people who dump them. In fact, how great would it be to hunt them down with dogs? And please let those dogs bite.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

That's a ruff situation.

Maybe require all dogs to be chipped, so they can be linked to their owners.

And get the SDF to euthanise feral packs before they start dragging away small children for lunch.

If the European care staffing crisis gets any worse, ubasute yama may not be a myth any more.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You can tell a country by the way in which it treats its animals.

Buddhist culture?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

People who abandoned pets deserves jail..

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Only the worst kind of people would abandon a dog in such a way. It would be more humane to have it put to sleep.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

People who keep dogs as pets should have to take a test and be licensed before they can just go off to a pet shop. As a dog lover I find it apalling how so many people fail to grasp the responsibility that goes with pet ownership. Both towarsds the pet as well as other people.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I was returning home by bicycle when I saw a dog being avoided by cars passing by. I stopped, and the dog gladly came to me, he (male dog) was a bit dirty, with a guide, but no signs of his owner around. I left my bike and let him guide me along the street, he made many stops to pee, as a male dog usually does. I got frustrated as could not see the owner looking for him, nor find his home. Could a runaway dog, or an abandoned one. I took him to a police station, pointed in the map where I found him, they got my name, address, telephone, and told me that they would try to find the owner, if the owner was not localized, then, the dog would be taken to an animal welfare organization, very sad. As I live in a very tiny apartment, I could not take him. No ID was in the dog collar. Hope that he is not sacrificed. Responsible ownership of pets is something necessary, should be mandatory.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Maybe require all dogs to be chipped, so they can be linked to their owners.

Possible, but I suspect that someone who would abandon a dog might not hesitate to remove the chip.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I’m not particularly fond of our canine friends, in fact I have a hate/hate relationship, being much fonder of the feline four-legged fur-balls. But even so, this is really quite sad. Some owners here could do with seeing the old British TV adverts, “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas” on repeat.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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