Japan Today



The sad fate of pets left behind by their owner's death


Dying is a complicated business. So many loose ends to tie up. There’s a will to be made, a funeral to plan, debts to pay, arrangements to be made for loved ones. No wonder this thing or that tends to get lost in the shuffle. For example, says Shukan Gendai (Jan 5-12), pets. What becomes of them when you’re no longer here to see to their needs?

Kazuo Sakazaki (a pseudonym) died at 74, not knowing the commotion he left behind. “After my mother died,” his son recalls, “father sought solace in pets.” First a dog, then a cat. At his death the dog was 7, the cat 6. What to do with them? The son couldn’t take them – his wife and daughters were allergic to animal fur. His younger sister lived in an apartment building that banned pets. “It led,” says the son, “to a lot of fruitless quarrels between us.”

On the outcome of those quarrels, the magazine is oddly silent. Passing abruptly from the specific to the general, it reflects on the overall situation, which is grim. Nationwide, some 100,000 pets a year are handed over to local health centers, for want of anything better – and 40 percent of these animals end up being put to sleep. This is a shame not only for the pets but for the late pet-owners, who surely would have wanted to do better by the faithful, devoted four-footed companions of their last years. Whether the culprit is forgetfulness, distraction or infirmity, the fact remains: There are few living things more helpless than a pet left behind, unprovided for.

Forewarned is forearmed. To the owner, a pet is a family member. Perhaps he or she expects relatives and friends to feel the same. Don’t count on it. One person’s beloved pet is someone else’s damned nuisance. If a personal arrangement can be made with someone close to you, so much the better. If not, consider impersonal – that is to say, contractual – alternatives.

They exist, in increasing numbers to meet a soaring need. One possibility has rather a long history to it – posting a notice at the local animal clinic: “Will anyone take my pet?” A cute picture helps, observes Yoko Yamamoto of the NPO Tokyo Cat Guardian. It’s more likely to attract a would-be “foster parent.” On the other hand, not all pets are cute. Pets too are subject to aging, losing not only their looks but their health, to the point of needing nursing care. What of them?

There actually are “old pet homes” – facilities that see to the special needs of aging animals. Be careful, Shukan Gendai warns. Some are better than others. Low fees can be an attraction; more likely than not a deceptive one. “A pet has to eat,” says Yamamoto. “Feeding it costs several hundred yen a day. Medical care, too, costs money. Best avoid the cheap facilities if you want your pet properly cared for.”

Don’t rely on the net, she advises – “visit the place in person,” and make appropriate financial arrangements. There are trust funds available that cover the contingencies.

It’s never to soon to prepare, the magazine says: “Won’t it be a relief to you to know that your pet is well provided for?”

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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40 percent of these animals end up being put to sleep. 

put to sleep is far too gentle a euphemism for how these animals are killed. Cheaply, of course, so they are gassed, often several per airlocked container. Death takes up to twenty minutes, because cost trumps the agony of having your lungs slowly dissolved by said gas.

Not just pets, of course. Where does rejected 'stock' get sent to if a pet store can't sell the animal?

Do not shop - adopt.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

This is an excellent article, something I’ve not thought about. Definitely adopt, don’t buy, but it seems in either case, that a sad fate awaits the pets after their owners passing.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This article confirmed my decision not to get a replacement pet after my 18 year old cat departed. Sure, it is a bit lonely sometimes, but I just dial up the memories. Plus, I enjoy other people's cats and locals that prowl around the neighborhood. Maria is right...adopt. Pet farms should be banished. I can't bring myself to look at the Y100,000 kittens and puppies on their way to an early demise.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Reckless: have you ever considered adopting a senior dog? So much harder to home, even though they have years left in them. And the love is the same. Lots of good karma to anyone who adopts a senior. :)

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The problem with the old guy in the article is he made a FOOLISH MISTAKE, getting young dog/cat when you are in your 70s!!!!??!!!

THAT is just blatant irresponsibility! At that age he should have best done without or adopted am ELDERLY dog/cat!!

A dog is likely 10-15year commitment, cats even longer! I had to lay the law down with my wife couple years ago. We have rescued & fitted strays etc BUT I had to say we CANT add any more as they are likely to outlive us.

Far too many irresponsible pet ownership issues, especially here in Japan with the "extra" issues here, makes it that much harder

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

 and 40 percent of these animals end up being put to sleep. This is a shame not only for the pets but for the late pet-owners

Why is it a shame? They gave the old guy 6 and 7 years of happiness and friendship. Be happy with that and move on. They’re not humans. There’s definitely a starving or needy child or single mother out in the world to help rather than weeping over someone else’s pet.

Just curious, can pets be cremated with their owners.

BTW, I will never buy a puppy or kitten. Adoption only.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The problem with the old guy in the article is he made a FOOLISH MISTAKE, getting young dog/cat when you are in your 70s!!!!??!!!

Yeah, how dare a lonely older person look for happiness in later life by caring for a pet!

Seriously though. I Agree with Maria and others on adoption. It's the best way, whatever age you or your prospective pet happens to be.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If I had a piece of land I would try and take in all those animals! Animals deserve a chance at life! The article hit upon a good point that I have never even thought of, shame I would rather deal with the animals more than people. Animals appreciate help, humans scuff at it!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

We told ourselves that we would not have any more pets, but then we found two abandoned, starving kittens on our door step. If we pass on before them, I hope that someone will take them in, but if not, they will have lived longer than they would have otherwise.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I adopted our chihuahua from ARK, an animal refuge agency in Kansai. His previous owner passed away owning five other dogs. All of them got adopted. The owner must have trained our dog very well, he is so well behaved and he hardly ever barks. If you ever want a pet in Japan, check out ARK.

4 ( +4 / -0 )


I second that!

We have two cats from Ark that came from the street.

They will be with us for the rest of their days....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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